The Heart of a Dancer

Copyrightę 2012 -- Nicholas Hall

 

The Heart of a Dancer -- Chapter 2 --"Darkness and Light"

Standing mute, puzzled by his abrupt departure until I came to the realization I'd been but an all-night fuck, another of his conquests, not so much unlike a whore. Tears cascading down my face, streaking it, dripping off of my chin onto my chest, I buried my face in my hands, suddenly understanding this was no different than my freshman year in college and the vow I took then and broke now. I gave my heart to another and it was refused.

The rest of the weekend, alone, without Malachi, only served to increase my melancholy as I continued to replay and dwell on what happened. How could I've been such a fool? Although he said the cops were closing in on the guy who raped Mickey, I was beginning to have my doubts. Not only had Malachi been secretive and overly protective of me while we were dating, almost jealous of someone else's attention, I now know he carried a Goddamned gun like a fucking criminal. I tried calling his cell phone several times, receiving only a recorded message, and each time left one of my own for him to call me. Malachi didn't return my calls; not Sunday, not Monday, not Tuesday. It was as if I ceased to exist as far as he was concerned.

Wednesday, after I made up my mind to break it off with him, I became distracted by a heinous event, involving me, at school. Facing my little clutch of youngsters when the day began, I noticed several serious bruises on Robert, one of the quiet ones in the group, who also missed a great deal of school. He begged out of physical education class, claiming illness, so I let him remain in the classroom while the others trooped off to the gym. After the others left, I began, softly and compassionately, to question him concerning his bruises. No sooner had I began my probing when he broke out into tears, moaning, shoulders convulsing with each wracking sob. Catching his breath in between each, he told me his father came home drunk again and beat him with his fists. When his brother, Andrew, in fourth grade, tried to stop him, his dad picked him up, threw him on the floor, and stomped him. When his dad felt he'd done enough damage, he collapsed on the couch in a drunken stupor.

Robert looked at me, with fear in his eyes, pleading, "Mr. Westmoreland, I'm scared he's going to kill us."

I put my arm around him and led him down the hall to the Principal's office. Once he heard Robert's story, he summoned Andrew to the office, and called the police and county social services. A police officer from the Des Moines Police Department and an intake officer from the county took my statement and removed the children from school. The children didn't return to school on Thursday. I could only hope they were safe.

That evening, I called Malachi again, this time he answered. The conversation was one-sided, by my choice. When I demanded why he left without a word and then refused to return my calls, Malachi responded, "Matt, I can explain, if you give me a chance. Why don't I come over and we can talk about it?"

There was no way in hell I was going to step into that trap. "I'll bet you can explain yourself, while you're packing your luggage in my rear compartment. Listen, Malachi, once you got what you were after, fucking me, you were satisfied. I was nothing but a conquest to you, a nice little all-night fuck and then, you move on to the next one. I gave myself to you, Malachi, and you treated me no better than a rent-boy, a cheap street whore for you to pleasure yourself with. You never even bothered to say `thank you.' Well, you got your rocks off and had your fun, now get out of my life and leave me alone. I don't wish you in my life, now, never, so adios, Mother Fucker. Let me live my life without you; I want more out of life, someone who will love me, not just use me and that's not you."

Malachi was very quiet, then said stoically, "I can't let that happen," and hung up. I cried myself to sleep that night or should I say early in the morning. I was fearful he'd show up at my door and do something violent to me, although he never had those tendencies while we dated. But, there was something about him that made me think he was capable of many things, and the use of force was just one of them.

The next day, Friday, after school, the principal stopped me as I was leaving the building. "Mr. Westmoreland, you should know Robert and Andrew were removed from the home and placed in protective custody. A warrant has been issued for the father's arrest. I've dealt with him in the past and he's a nasty, vicious brute. I'd be extremely cautious if I were you until he's in custody."

I wasn't as concerned as much about the drunken lout as I was with Malachi and his gun. He made no effort to call me back or stop by the apartment, so I was very apprehensive. Leaving school, I realized this would be the first weekend in months I wouldn't be going out with Malachi. A slight mist was falling and the weather matched my mood. I pulled up my coat collar to ward off some of the moisture, hunkered down my head, and walked toward the parking lot. I snapped my head up when I heard someone running toward me. My eyes focused on Malachi running at me, arm extended holding a gun, shouting my name.

"No," I screamed, dropping my brief case, starting to hunch over protectively, I thought I heard shots while at the same time it felt like baseball bats hitting me. When I looked up from where I fell, rain dampening my face, Malachi had one arm under my head and in the other his pistol. Tears fell from my eyes, mixing with the rain, as I struggled to say, "Why did you shoot me? What did I do to deserve this?" then, "At least dead I won't have to fear you." Malachi's anguished face was the last thing I saw before I slipped into darkness.

Struggling back from the depths of the deep, dark well I'd fallen into, finding myself swaddled like a new born babe, unable to move, entertained by a cacophony of beeps and buzzes, I slowly opened my eyes and realized I was still alive. A voice said, "Matthew, you're in the hospital, don't try to talk, not just yet."

Suddenly, I was surrounded by people in white coats, multi-colored coats, faces covered with surgical masks, all intent on doing something to my body, poking, prodding, and adjusting. I finally focused on one person standing close to me, using a stethoscope on my chest, flashing a light in my eyes.

"Welcome back, Matthew. I'm Dr. Wilson, your attending physician. You've given us quite a fright off and on."

I struggled to speak, but he placed a gloved hand gently on my lips, saying, "Your throat's probably dry and sore after being agitated by the breathing tube we had in you to assist you. Just rest a minute while we try to sooth that for you."

My eyes stared at him, questioning him, asking he not leave me. He stood by my side while a nurse inserted a straw in my mouth and told me to sip. I slowly sucked up a bit of thick liquid, not water, but soothing to the throat.

Dr. Wilson continued, "Matthew, you were shot several times and had some pretty serious surgeries. We induced a coma to help you rest and heal. Before you ask, it was eight days ago. The discomfort you feel in your groin is from the catheter we've inserted to allow you to urinate. We'll try to remove that today or tomorrow if everything goes well. No, I don't know how long you'll be here, but I do know you won't be going home for a while and you'll need some rehabilitative therapy once we do discharge you. How you recover will determine your length of stay."

My voice croaked as I whispered, "What happened to the guy that shot me?"

Dr. Wilson patted me on the shoulder and said, "No need to worry about that, just be concerned with getting better."

I looked at him again demanding, "Tell me!"

He sighed, responding, "He was shot and killed by the police."

I moaned and closed my eyes; Malachi was dead and I was alive. The sadness of the situation overwhelmed me and I drifted off to sleep some more.

Once I was taken from the Intensive Care Unit to a private room, activity around me became less hectic, but no less stressful to my body and to me, emotionally. The surgery, necessitated by the wounds in one lung, my left leg, stomach, and right arm on my body, made the structural repairs, but it was now up to my body to heal, along with my mind. According to the doctors, it was fortunate my assailant used a small caliber (.25 caliber) handgun rather than a larger one, lessening the damage, but it was still sufficient to cause the doctors to remove one kidney and part of my liver. The liver would regenerate itself, but the kidney was lost forever. The muscles in the right arm were torn (then repaired by surgery) when I hunched over after seeing Malachi with the gun and the leg was penetrated by a separate bullet; those two wounds, as well as the muscles in my stomach, required physical therapy.

My daily routine, after bath, shave, and breakfast, included rigorous physical therapy, followed by rest, lunch, another session, rest, dinner, rest until night. Pain was kept at bay by medication, but the doctors were slowly weaning me away from regular doses, relying now more on periodic or as needed administration. I was determined to rid myself of the narcotics, since they seemed to increase the depression I could feel myself slipping into. My body might be healing, but my mind wasn't. My depression didn't concern the hospital bills, my insurance would pay those, or my job, secured by a special leave of absence by the Principal; or the loss of wages since the district had a long term disability policy that would pay seventy-five percent of my wages; no, it was Malachi! I couldn't rid myself of the feeling that Malachi's death was just as much my fault as it was his for trying to kill me. He was dead and I was alive and I wondered if I could continue to live without him and my guilt.

I'd quite often, suddenly, unexplainably, begin to sob uncontrollably. The doctors diagnosed my condition as Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome, similar to the condition affecting so many of our soldiers during war. They said the shock to me physically, the surreal experience of the attempted assassination, and my near death would take time for my mind to assimilate and reconcile itself to the reality and acceptance of it. I knew better, but I said nothing. The psychiatrist who worked with me saw no progress and probably was getting just as frustrated as I. As much as he probed, I refused to tell him of my lover's attempt on my life and how much I missed him, in spite of what he tried to do.

One of the pastors, who make frequent trips to the hospital to comfort the ill, stopped by my room to visit. A conservative, fundamentalist preacher, he was more concerned with getting converts to his beliefs and philosophy than healing my mind. After about twenty minutes of Bible reading, I finally stopped him by asking, "Do you know the passage in the Bible that speaks to Jesus being gay?" That certain got his attention!

"There is no place in the Bible speaking to that. It is an abomination and is forbidden!"

I looked at him puzzled and said, "Isn't there a passage which speaks of the disciple, the man Jesus loved?"

He closed his eyes, folded his hands, and announced, "We need to pray to remove these impure thoughts from your mind."

Before he could start, I reached over, clasped his hand with my good one, smiled when he opened his eyes, winked at him, and said, "My touching you makes your dick throb and gives you the urge to reach under the blankets and fondle my cock, doesn't it?"

He moved quickly away and left the room. Enough of that kind of nonsense, I thought, there are other pastors who are more tolerant and helpful in this world. At least it raised my spirits, temporarily, at least. My happiness soon turned to gloom again, my eating began to suffer, and as a result, my recovery. I found it very difficult to think of anything other than Malachi's death and how much it was my fault, until one afternoon, resting after my physical therapy session, a familiar light brown face poked his head in the door. Mickey, the young dancer who had been raped over a year ago, stepped into my room. I hadn't seen him or heard of him since he left the dance troupe.

Smiling, he pulled up a chair next to the bed, reached over, patted me on the shoulder, and asked, "How's the old hose hanging, Jackie?"

Goddamn, I was so happy to see someone I knew, and he was just the ticket! I grinned back, answering, "Pretty limp, but the names not `Jackie' you know, it's really Matt. What're you doing here?"

"I know that's not your name, dufus, but I thought I'd toss it at you anyway. I live here in town with my brother and go to school at Drake University. A guy I know with the Des Moines PD mentioned something about a teacher who got shot a while back and when I heard the name, I just knew it was you, so here I am! My name's not `Mickey' either, it's really Micah' so `Mickey' made sense, just like yours."

Micah and I had the best visit. We laughed and joked about the dance gigs we had and college life until supper when Micah said he had to leave, but, wanted to know if he could come back again the next day. Shit, yes, I agreed. I slept better that night than I had all week as a result of our conversation and in anticipation of him coming back the next day. He was back the next day and the next after that. On his fourth visit, I finally worked up enough courage to ask, "Micah, how did you deal with the rape? Did you have counseling or what?"

He didn't hesitate to open up. "I went to a rape crisis center and they were a big help, convincing me it wasn't my fault, instead, I was the victim. You see, Matt, I thought, in the back of my mind, that I was the one that provoked the attack; if I'd done something differently, it never would've happened. What he did, I had no control over, even though I struggled and fought. I'm fortunate he didn't kill me."

The more we talked, the more it gave me something to think about. That night, after Micah left, when the hospital was quiet, during that time when darkness is evident, during those hours early in the morning before the breaking dawn, at that time when the life and soul of some of the sicker people there is stolen and whisked away to the netherworld, I came to the conclusion that Malachi's death wasn't really my fault. Micah was correct, I was the victim, and I really needed to talk to someone about it, but I wanted to talk to Micah first.

The next day when he arrived I began telling him what happened, without using Malachi's name. I just couldn't face the reality of his death, not yet. I told Micah about meeting this handsome, mysterious man who wouldn't share his secrets with me; how he acted whenever we went somewhere, scanning the rooms of restaurants and other places as if looking for someone, protecting me; my discovery of his gun; the mysterious phone text message he'd received after our all night fuck-fest; how I broke it off with him and his response and; the day he came to school and tried to kill me. Micah sat quietly, listening attentively, compassionately, as I poured my heart out to him, concluding with, tears pouring down my face,

"Micah, I loved him so much. I would've forgiven him and taken him back if he only would've said he was sorry, but no, he had to come to school and shoot me. Even after he did, holding me in his arms, I should've told him I loved him, but I pushed him away telling him that at least dead, I wouldn't have to fear him anymore. I really didn't mean it. I never even told him I loved him."

Sobbing, I finally stopped. Micah sat for a minute, nodding his head as if understanding how I felt.

"Matt, have you spoken with anybody about this and how you feel about this lover of yours?"

I shook my head no, "I just couldn't do it until now, and I've missed Malachi so much, blaming myself for his death. Micah, he was really the only person I've truly loved after my fiasco as a freshman. I vowed then never to love again, but I did, more deeply than ever before."

He sat quietly for the longest time, until finally speaking softly, "Matt, would you mind terribly if I brought my brother to see you tomorrow? He's pretty understanding and I think he could help you a great deal. You need to talk to someone and he's a good start. I know without him, I would've been lost after the rape. He's gone from home quite a bit, but he's home now. O.K.?"

I nodded my consent, responding, "If you think it'll do any good, bring him."

"I think it would do you a great deal of good and help you get back on the path to healing. I'll talk to him tonight," Micah advised.

The next afternoon, after my physical therapy session, as I was resting, Micah poked his head in the door, smiled when he saw me awake, inquiring, "Ready for company?"

"You bet, come on in."

He stepped into my room, saying somewhat hesitantly, "Matt, I've brought my brother with me and he's as anxious to talk to you as you will be with him. I told him your story and I think he'll help you out, if you give him a chance. Promise you'll give him a chance?"

I couldn't figure out where this was going, but any port in a storm and I did need some help, so I agreed. "I promise to give him a chance or two or three or how many it takes to help me out of this mess."

He turned back to the door, said something to someone in the hall, then walked back to my bed, laying his hand on my shoulder, as he said, "Matt, this is my brother," and Malachi walked in the door! I groaned, shut my eyes, and tensed up expecting another gunshot or fearful I'd lost my mind completely. I started to shake, my eyes teared up, my breath came in short gasps, and Mickey grabbed me by the shoulder, reassuring me, "Matt, don't worry. Nothing's going to happen to you; trust me, you're not dreaming or lost your mind. Everything will be alright. Now, open your eyes, take a deep breath, and look at him."

I opened my eyes, focusing on Malachi; a very sad looking, but handsome, adorable, lovable, alive Malachi, standing hesitantly, awaiting any sign from me that he was welcome. I gasped a couple of times and finally blurted out, "You're dead, the cops shot you! How can you still be here?"

He stepped up to my bed, stood next to Micah, hesitantly reached out a hand to me, and said, "Touch me, Matt, and see that I'm not dead, not physically injured, but hurting so deeply that I could die, as you may have wished, living without you in my life," and began crying, soft, deep sobs. "Will you ever forgive me for what I didn't do? I couldn't stop him Malachi, no matter how many times I shot; he still damned near killed you. I couldn't allow anyone to take you away from me. I told you on the phone, I wouldn't allow that to happen, but it did."

I pulled his hand to my lips, kissed his warmth, held it up to my cheek, nodding, as my tears washed my face and his fingers.

"But," I started to ask and was stopped by him placing his hand lightly over my lips and with the other, extracted a leather billfold from his coat pocket. When he opened it, he pulled out a business card and exposed a shiny, gold badge attached to the other inside flap.

"Detective, Sgt. Malachi Stevens, State Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Child Protection Division," I read aloud, not quite believing what it said, but knowing it was true nonetheless. I began to relax, confused, but relaxed, with him standing by me.

"Who?" I asked.

Malachi understood who I meant without having to say anything further. "Your assailant was the father of the two boys you reported to the police for child abuse. He was a real nut case. I heard about it Friday morning and knowing the guy was wanted and dangerous, I was coming out to the school to warn you and -- ask you to forgive me. When I saw him behind you with the gun, I drew mine and was shouting at you, but you just hunched over when he began firing. I finally dropped him, called for the EMT's, and held you until they arrived. It was then you told me not to bother you again, so I haven't and I'm so sorry," and leaned forward to kiss me again, caress my face, run his fingers through my hair.

Malachi confessed he fell in love with the first time he saw me dance. When Micah announced he was joining the strip act, Malachi wasn't very happy. He wasn't at all pleased Micah chose Iowa City for college, since it was just the two of them. He preferred him staying closer to home, but, Micah being the independent cuss he is, decided to go to Iowa City and to make some money, he'd dance. He had all of the attributes of a good performer; a good dancer, slim, trim body, quick smile, and a nice, long cock. Malachi figured if he couldn't persuade his brother otherwise, he'd stay close by to watch over him. Malachi tried to be present at all of Micah's gigs, sitting in the audience, watching his brother's back. He had to admit, he became infatuated with me, wanting to date me in the worst way. Well, it certainly ended up that way.

When Micah was raped, Malachi's the one who interrupted it, but the man escaped while Malachi attended to Micah. However, he did get a good look at the man. A warrant was issued for his arrest and the manhunt began. There had been several rapes of young, black men in the area, but this was the first time the police had semen to use for DNA. The guy had been careless.

"So that's why you always looked over the crowd everywhere we went?" I interrupted.

Malachi nodded. That Saturday morning, the morning after he stayed all night with me, he received a text message the suspect was apprehended in another state. Malachi was part of the team to go get him and bring him back. Although technically not in his department, the suspect had raped a fourteen year old boy, so Malachi had some jurisdiction. Besides, his own brother had been violated and he wanted to be there to bring the guy back to stand trial. He was out of touch, out of state and couldn't return my phone calls that weekend or the next week until Thursday.

"Why didn't you tell me?" I pleaded, "If I would've known you were a cop, I would've understood, instead of wondering if you were some drug runner or rapist or something."

"Matt, I realize now I should've. I should've trusted you, after all, you seemed to trust me not to hurt you all that time. I thought if you knew I was a cop you'd drop me like a hot potato. People don't like cops sometimes. Also, in my job, I deal with the dregs of society, those who beat and kill their kids and other peoples. I don't talk about it because we have to protect the kids. We carry their secrets to our grave. I don't talk to Micah about it and understand, as we share our future, I can't share those secrets with you either. I do pledge to share more with you and with Micah so you'll have fewer worries. But one thing I do pledge to you, no matter what, I'll always love you and be faithful to you."

My world ended when I was shot and began again when Malachi walked in the door, thankful he was alive, overcome with emotion as he expressed his commitment to me. I started to speak, but he placed his fingers over my lips, saying, "Shh, my little dancer," leaned forward, kissing me whispering, "Matt, I love you so much."

We sat, held hands, kissed each other, secure in each other's company. Micah sat quietly, finally, clearing his throat, "I think I'll go home, guys. Malachi, you got money for a cab for me since we came in your state car?"

Malachi laughed, pulled out his wallet and handed some cash to his brother. "Don't wait up for me, Micah. I'll be just fine."

The nurse came in around ten o'clock, shooed Malachi out the door, but before he left, he said, "I'll be here tomorrow and the next day and the next day until you come home."

I knew he would and he knew I'd go home to him. It was a good thing I knew how to teach and had a license, since with all of the scars from the surgeries I had, my career as a stripper dancing in night clubs was definitely over, but it wouldn't stop me from dancing the horizontal Mambo with Malachi.

To be continued.

**

Thank you for reading "Chapter 2 -- Darkness and Light" from "The Heart of a Dancer."  I hope you enjoyed it and invite you to follow "The Heart of a Dancer" to its eventual conclusion.  Other stories of mine can be found at:

Nifty- Beginnings - "Table Number Five" -- January 18, 2012

Nifty- Beginnings -"The Carpenter and the Piano Man" -- January 24, 2012

Nifty-Beginnings -- "Gillie" -- January 31, 2012

Nifty-High School - Sheldon's Nutshuckers

"The Stinky Pinky" -- February 14, 2012.

"The Head of Medusa" -- March 8, 2012

Nifty- Beginnings --"Last House on the Left" -- February 21, 2012

Nifty-College -- "First of May" -- February 29, 2012

The Literary works of Nicholas Hall are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America and are the property of the author.

Positive comments are welcome and appreciated at:  nick.hall8440@gmail.com