13. Shenanigans – Part 3

As many of you are aware, I am revealing the story of a man who abducted me and tried to terrify me over something as inconsequential as paperwork. I do not have His permission to write this and I know He would not grant it. If He is capable of abduction over a little paperwork, then I dare not think what will happen if these entries were found. However, I feel the potential dangers are outweighed by the weight of the story, so for now, I have made a number of changes to this entry to protect my anonymity. This may include references to the setting, people, currencies and accents.

“Don’t be an arse, run!”

If I had thought more carefully, I might have paid greater attention to where I was planting those panting footsteps… I misjudged my footfall; my toe caught on the edge of a protruding cobble… I saw cobblestones, and then I saw stars.

As my sentient stream of thought coiled and burrowed away, all I could think was, He swore at me—again!

________

It is a strange thing, when you get knocked out, you have no dreams. You have no awareness; you have no time. Everything is nothing. The world and all its existence is nihilo. Where did my soul go, my essence?

Is that what it is to die?

I awoke to the sharp tang of pain.

I was indoors, a café of some description, and He had chosen a private booth. I wondered how I had arrived there, imagining Andrew carrying me once more, slumped across His broad shoulders like a bag of turnips. My leg was placed on top of Andrew’s lap and He was cleaning the grit from my knee scrapes, cleansing my ouchies with the tight white, bracing sting of vodka.

“You swore at me.” I said, immediately realising how groggy I sounded.

He passed the vodka my way, with a face laced in smiles and charms. I took a swig; it left my oesophagus spicy chargrilled and my insides taut warm and slightly insulted. I remembered—I loathe pure spirits; they summon a diabolical disco scene and fire breath footsteps. Worst of all they wave goodbye with a retch heaved from five-feet under, leaving my insides as outsides, and what is left inside turned upside down.

Andrew styled a Loki smile for size. “Oh, yes, I am sorry, that was terribly put, shall I rephrase for you, Little Miss?” He asked. “No problem—I meant, don’t be an arse, run, and don’t mangle yourself in the process.” I knew that was coming, but it lit a lamp and I laughed. I couldn’t help myself.

Apparently, profanities have been ranked according to how obscene or offensive they are. Thankfully, His preference for potty-mouth resides in the mild end of the spectrum alongside ‘git’ and ‘cow’. Does this dictate I should be less offended? Was this an attempt to form a bond as men do among one another utilising insults? If so, at what point did he feel offence could acceptably pass for friendship? As the fading smile lingers across my cheeks, I wondered whether it was successful. Should I be concerned that He is trying to befriend me? Should I be more concerned that this is yet another of His power plays?

He was gently dabbing at my knee, as one cat might lick another’s wounds, removing the last grit, and I was letting Him. I would blame it on my recently gaining consciousness, my cotton wool thoughts or merry-go-round giddiness, but honestly, there was a part of me that enjoyed being cared for by Him, and I was more relaxed than I like to admit, or perhaps sensibly should have been. A signpost in red and black screamed in ejaculated plosives, I demoted it to the back row where it sat spitting its message through the convenient cloud cover I sent to bury it. Cloud cover is not a very efficient means of sound insulation—I think a part of me wanted to hear the message I screamed at myself: Don’t get close to Him.

Intuition was born to signal when something or someone doesn’t feel right. That was Andrew from A to W. It wasn’t the birds, it wasn’t the freaky ‘medical condition’, it wasn’t even the abduction—shockingly. I feel He is terrified to let a person in, and it leaves me shiver rigid when I wonder why.

 “You have given yourself quite the bruiser!” I nearly swallowed my own throat, dissolving in sea-level vertigo as His hand perched hesitantly on my shoulder for a second and pressed it gently. I pulled myself together, remembering the sign. This is something I would have considered thoughtful, had it been almost any other person. He was so close that the fertile scent of His shower soap feted the olfactory.

A flight of silence alighted upon a shared moment. I heard the chirrup and chatter of little birds that lined the window, looking inside. The birds are always looking inside. Feathered chatter has become a regular soundtrack when in the company of Andrew.

I felt possessed to take advantage of this rare and quilted moment. I had a trail of questions that needed answers if I were ever to trust Andrew. Did I dare? Could I? This felt like venturing into a jungle, with all the hairy eight-legged hazards and leeches raining from the trees. However—questions don’t get answered without asking them.

Challenge yourself once a day, my mantra sang. This shouldn’t be so difficult. I eased myself in:

“So erm,” a tremble seized my vocal chords and shook them for kingdom come. I eased my legs politely from His lap, looked Him in the eyes, solid as brass, and took a deep and lingering breath.

“So, perhaps you could tell me what just happened outside?”

Lithe as a predator, He matched me in the eyes and our pleasant aura disintegrated. Like the twang of a caught nerve, or the sibilant strain of a crash, the moment suddenly tightened. His mood had pulled a muscle.

The seconds were commandeered and cast over by rainclouds, and the moment left sodden and muggy. The chattering birds ceased their playful banter, and pattered about the wooden sill in beady-eyed silence.

He placed two hands square on the table, sat straight and predatory, His considerable frame shadowing over me. I knew this was another power pose, designed to belittle is interlocutor, and I knew His towering figure was aimed to create feelings of inferiority—I knew it was all an act—but it still had me shrinking.

He spoke.

“Under no circumstances may you communicate events of the last 4 hours, in any manner, either in writing or vocally. Neither will you make reference to specific words used by any individual during the aforementioned timeframe—do you understand?” He said. Not even an afterthought of please—not even the dislocated endearment of ‘Little Miss’.

The tone of His smooth, deep voice transported me back into the weary sharp edges of The Abduction. I recalled the solitary warehouse, just Him and me. Vulnerable dankness petered my cheer once more as I sifted through His shifted disposition. I had to regain my centre, calm my waters and steady my needle. I hadn’t signed anything to remove my right to free speech. The thought of His control attempts tightened my core in heavy repulsive coils. I thought of my Confidence Techniques: the saviour when things turn sour.

  • Maintain eye contact—despite Little Miss Preservation pulling me back with the might of every muscle she could muster. This was anything but natural. I was locking eyes with the wolf.
  • Breathe—deep breath, time is not a concern—I re-gathered my fragile frayed edges.
  • Take stock of the situation and answer accordingly

In the warehouse I maintained composure. I did this once; I can do it again.

Deep breath.

“Might I politely remind you that I decided against signing your legal agreement, therefore, there are no promises I am required by law to keep.” The voice that spoke oozed confidence, not relaying an inch of my terror. “We compromised on an agreement of trust—if you remember. Perhaps if you were to ask me politely, we might consider this part of our trust arrangement, for now.” A bead of sweat trickled down my spine.

Good job She! Another deep breath. My knees were shaking, but I was so proud of myself.

The rainclouds parted and the space between us brightened; His moods were as evergreen as British weather.

His eyes pleated, “Once more you impress me with your poise; you have quite the presence for such a small slip of a person, Little Miss.”

Was this a compliment? I am always tittering atop unsteady stacks around this man. A thought lingered like a pulled thread: what aspect of Himself is He so frightened of revealing? It is beyond me why he ever felt the need to use manipulation techniques to control a tiny, painfully introverted one-hundred-and-ten pound woman anyway.

His fears of Himself have broken a part of me, and I may never find the pieces.

“I will rephrase, as you request—although you seem to require a lot of rephrasing today.” He said.

His gaze clenched me as He continued, “I would like you to keep all this meIji: business between us—please.”

Please, always the afterthought, but it was the best I could expect. Most interestingly, there was that word again, heard clearly this time. My mind replayed the sound and chuntered in phonemes. I wondered what its significance was.

Hearing it more clearly this time, I could transcribe it using the IPA. Without access to the full script on WordPress, the nearest sounding would be /meI’ji:/. I later looked this up on the internet, trying a variation of spellings and found nothing of value. Has anyone heard of such a condition? The comments are open, as always. Please let me know.

Feeling bolder.

 “Very well, I will keep your secrets for now, but in return I expect your courtesy. No more expletives.”

His eyebrows turned upwards, lips pursed. He did not like abiding to rules, it seemed.

He held out His hand in a truce. I took it, grateful for the soft handshake. I winced as little glass daggers felt to bury themselves into my palms. It seems I had grazed my hands as well. At my wince, He turned them over and began wiping out the grit, as tenderly as tender could be. Did this thoughtfulness stem from guilt, or did He actually care? It may never be known.

For once, a clasp of comfortable silence gingerly held us.

“Want a coffee?” He asked, out of the blue. His face had broken into a rare and honest true smile; I savoured the moment and nodded in acquiescence before I remembered I do not like or drink coffee. In that fleeting infinitesimal moment, He could almost have been called pleasant-looking.

So there we sat, He had bought me a coffee, and I do not drink coffee, but it felt as though He was finally being friendly and I didn’t want to screw it up. Perhaps that is why I accepted it, or perhaps it was His soft as cinnamon smile and Stockholm Syndrome crush that feels to be taking a hold.

The silence stewed onwards as we toasted our mitts on hot cardboard. He seemed, at least for the time being, to be congenial.

In the expanse of another silence, a squirrel clambered daintily up Andrew’s trouser leg and perched boldly on His lap. Andrew sighed. As we were indoors, I wondered where this furry fellow had come from.

Andrew sighed again. Shadowy furrows bleached His pleasant demeanour.

In all my experience, Squirrels are timid little morsels. For one to perch on a person’s lap is quite remarkable. Several people nearby armed themselves with phones, videoing the little critter. It was posted on the internet within a couple of hours, and fell into a viral whirlwind, carried by a frenzy of likes and follows from one end of the immaterial net to the other.

Mysteriously, all traces of the video were deleted three days later.

I didn’t think that was possible.

Who didn’t want His picture on the web and why? Who has the power to access almost any server on the planet and delete data? I am not sure that is a rabbit hole I am willing to wander into.

“You not drinking yours?” He gestured at my coffee. “I’ve never been a fan of coffee either,” He laughed and tipped it out of the open window, to the hedgerow beneath, frightening the wildlife away, including our furry little critter. “I only got it to warm my hands. Funny time to have a festival—in winter.” He added.

His speaking took me aback. I wasn’t used to Him making conversation. He was being—pleasant.

“You have a coffee machine in the office,” I said.

“Which I’ve never used,” He added. It’s just for show—I don’t even know how to use it. God forbid anyone asks me for a drink!”

I smiled, surprised He had shared a detail about Himself with me, but mostly I was reassured that He possesses at least a thimbleful of uncertainty. I was beginning to think He had delusions of grandeur.

“Surely flowers would be a better centrepiece then?”

“Nah, a coffee machine makes the office look important and professional, and by extension, me also.”

Perhaps I shouldn’t throw the delusions of grandeur theory to the wayside too soon.

“Flowers are soft and sentimental and die easily. I have an image to uphold.”

Another shared snippet, one step closer.

We basked in a shared and lasting smile. Was I finally seeing a glimmer behind His thick, impermeable skin? He conceals Himself behind manipulation and money when in reality, He may be as wary as the best of us.

There were questions I wanted answering, and He was finally opening up. My hands were sweating around my cup. He is no more important or less important than I am. I maintained eye contact. I desperately wanted to ask a line of questions: what is a meI’ji:? how did He manage to avoid hitting the girl on the road when he wasn’t looking? How does He write beautiful flourishing script without observing the page?  What was His ‘medical condition’, and why do the birds troop up by windows wherever He goes?—but did I dare?

Would I?

Could I?

“Can I ask you just three questions?”

 “There’s no time for questions,” He answered, and shut down the conversation.

He is no more important or less important than I am, I repeated, mindfully. I turned to look Him in the eye. I was determined to have one question answered, at least.

“How did you know I had Temporal Lobe Epilepsy? That is very specific.”

This time I was the cause of the moment changing; the drapes dusked a shade and the ceiling crowded over claustrophobic. Perhaps He was crossed through with ire, or creased in unsure fury. Perhaps He was ironing a quirky smile, or He had simply found Himself at the end of patience path with no other way to go. It would be easier trying to read a pebble.

I didn’t have too long to wonder as He shook His head at me, a plateau facade, stood up and departed without a word.

As He made His exit, I noticed He swept directly past Ruby Ring, the shadow-clad lady, sitting straight with clockwork stare and eagle-keen eyes following Him out of the room. Whatever she wanted, I had a bile-deep feeling it wasn’t good.

I was left all alone, pondering and throwing occasional glances at Ruby Ring, wondering why she hadn’t pursued Andrew out. One minute, Andrew was caring and thoughtful and gently teasing the grit out of my wounds, the next He was walking out. Will I ever know where I stand with this man? At least, this time, He didn’t swear at me.

One more glance at the shadow-clad lady—but her attention was no longer lamenting the space where Andrew once stood, her mechanical precision had found a new target—me—and I was clasped in her iris deadlock.

The Ruby Ringed lady arose from her perch, and started making her way over to me.

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