The Lament of the Tortured Soul


Authors Note: This story is completely fiction. It is not based in anyway on actual events. Any resemblence the characters have to any living person is completely accidential. Saying that though many of the characters share traits with one person (it was completely unintentional) who unfortunately left us at the end of January 2002. Shadow as he was known to the people he called friend, the people who loved him and the people he left behind miss him greatly.

This story is dedicated to him. Rest easy my love we’ll be together again soon.

Chapter 14

Nick flopped down on his bed and pulled the blankets over him. He was still fully dressed not even bothering to remove his shoes. He just closed his eyes and let the emptiness envelope him. He never wanted to feel anything ever again.

Nick slept barely aware of the outside world. He didn’t feel someone remove his clothes nor was he aware of the many people who came to visit him. At some point he knew someone put something in his arm but it didn’t disturb his sleep. The sleep was not restful though. Nick dreamt. A lot of the time it was about Josh but then he also dreamt about things which didn’t make sense. He was a soldier crying over the body of a dead boy. He was a young warrior but all warriors were young during that time. He was on an important quest, being pulled by some ancient memory. Facing great perils only to find that he was seconds too late when he finally got to his destination. The body of the boy on the alter broke his heart. The body of Josh on the alter broke Nick’s heart.

He was an older man in the prime of his life fighting to protect a young boy from great evil. Only at the moment of truth the boy went with evil sacrificing himself to protect the man and his companions because there was no other choice. Nick felt the man’s despair. Nick felt his own despair as the man dropped to his knees crying out in pain as the earth shook, as the earth broke away leaving him kneeling at the edge of a large abyss.

Nick wanted to jump. He wanted to dive into the abyss. He wanted the pain to finally end. It has happened so often, life after life of him finding Josh only for him to be ripped away each time. Nick stood at the edge of the abyss. A sense of calm came over him. The decision had been made; he wouldn’t play the game anymore. It would end this time, not with his death, but with the total destruction of his soul.

It was in that moment of absolute calm that Nick heard voices. They weren’t talking to him but it was about him.

“We’re losing him.”

“It is not our place to interfere.”

“He’ll be gone forever unless we do something.”

“You know our hands are tied.”

“Not this time. It has been decided. Time to wake up Nick.”

“Time to wake up Nick.” Eric said gently shaking Nick, “Come on boy its time to wake up.” Nick opened his eyes slowly. Even though the light in the room was dim it still hurt his eyes.

“Nick, Josh is awake. He woke up this morning. He’s been asking for you.” It took a few seconds for Nick to process this information but when the connections were finally made he tried to sit up. Too quickly and he fell back down his head pounding.

“Easy there lad.” Came another voice in the room, “You’ve been out for 3 days now. You need food and rest before you go anywhere.”

“I’ve been resting.” Nick growled at the doctor, the stethoscope hanging around his neck giving away his profession.

It was still the next day before Nick found himself standing outside Josh’s hospital room. Slowly he opened the door peeking around it.

“Took you long enough to get here.” Josh said grinning. All of the machines that had been keeping him alive the last time Nick saw him had been removed but the bandages were still there. Nick did not see them though, he only saw Josh’s eyes were full of life, full of love.

“Sorry.” Was all Nick said as he quickly crossed the few feet between the door and the hospital bed containing Josh. Nick bent down and kissed Josh. As always happened the world disappeared the moment Nick’s lips touched Josh’s. It was like they were the only two souls in the universe but this time it was also different. There wasn’t the sense of urgency or danger as there was the other times they had kissed. There was only peace and calm.

“I was above you, I saw you protecting me. They said it was time to go but I wanted to make sure you were ok. I watched you in the chapel talking to them but I couldn’t hear what you were saying. They said if I went with them we would be together soon but I couldn’t leave you so they let me stay.”

Nick brushed the hair away from Josh’s eyes to reveal a jagged wound just above his left eye. The scar both Nick and Josh would carry for the rest of their lives, only Nick’s was not visible. “You wouldn’t have had to wait long.”

It was a few days later when Josh had his first visitor other than Nick and what he had come to think of as his family, John, Blake, Eric, Robby, John’s Mom and Mrs. Watts.

Nick was there and they were playing a game of cards when the door to the room opened slowly and in slipped Lisa and Janie followed by their boyfriends and Nick’s former best friends Geoff and Marty. It was Lisa who spoke.

“We were there when it happened.” She said suddenly losing the plot of what they had planned to say, “We’re all sorry you know. Great concert by the way.” Nick was about to say something but he felt Josh’s hand on his arm so let them continue, “I…umm…we’ve had this idea. Everyone we’ve talked to thinks it cool and is willing to help as long as you too are in. So will you do it?”

“Why don’t you tell us what it is first.” Josh said.

“Oh yeah, well there is this competition called a Stage Challenge on in a couple of months where all these schools get together and put on a bunch of 15 minute performances with music, dance and stuff. We want to enter. The theme this year is the world around you and we want to base ours around your painting Nick.”

“What painting?” Josh asked

It was a few weeks later when Josh saw the painting which was hanging in the main foyer of the school.

“We’ll do it.” He said without turning to Lisa, Janie and the guys who were standing behind them holding their breath.

It was a frenzied couple of months. Josh and Blake looked after the script, Nick and Robby the music, John and Marty the set design, Lisa and Janie costumes and with the help of Geoff, who showed a talent for it, the choreography.

The two months seemed to fly by and all too soon it was the day of the performance. The backstage area had been sectioned off with tape each school having their own area. There were ten schools competing with Nick’s school being the last one to perform. Even though they arrived quite a bit after the other schools they were still there to see the first performance and it was a nervous wait.

Nick and Josh waited quietly by themselves snuggling in the back corner of their back stage area. Lost in their own thoughts they paid little attention to the bedlam around them content to just sit there and comfort the nerves of the other.

Eventually it was time for them to take the stage. Behind the drawn curtain they all gathered in the center of the stage. Hands into the middle they said a prayer before parting, taking their positions and waiting for the curtain to raise.

When the curtain rose everyone was on stage, some entering from stage left and exiting stage right, others doing the opposite. Still others entering and exiting from all doors in the auditorium. Some walked at a great pace as if on an important mission and other walked slowly wandering pausing and looking around to give the impression of people window shopping.

The only difference to every day life was the noise. There was none except the moving of feet and the steady beat kept by Tommy’s drum until suddenly the strong sound of an electric guitar made the audience jump. Through the middle of the onstage crowd came Nick playing as one critic later put it ‘it was as if the world froze just to hear this boy play and it was just as well they did for what they experienced rivaled the greatest rifts by the best guitarist the world has ever made’. In a sense the world did freeze because all the people on stage and all those wandering through the audience stood still while he played.

When he was nearing the end of his short ]??] rift John walked slowly from stage right with his head down. Nick finished as he neared center stage. In the last few notes John turned to face the audience still with his head down and as the last note rung out his head snapped up and he spoke.

“Now that we have your attention.” There was a murmur through the crowd as the tension that has been building to the point of critical mass had suddenly been taken down a notch. “What we have to present to you today will not be pleasant. For some it may bring back memories of a long buried past and for that we are truly sorry but it is a story that must be told for tonight we bring you The Lament of the Tortured Soul.”

On the video wall above Tommy’s drum kit the picture Nick had painted when he thought he had lost Josh appeared as Robby who had been keeping a slow low beat with his base ever since Nick had finished picked up both the volume and pace followed by Tommy on drums, Jason on lead guitar and Dylan on rhythm guitar and vocals began the 12 minute long performance of their lives.

The performance followed the poem Nick had written to go along with the painting. As each scene changed on stage up on the video wall on each side of the painting the verse that related to each scene was displayed.

Alone in the darkness the tortured soul waits,
Hoping to have a moment’s longer peace.
Enjoying the silence of being alone,
Listening quietly for the coming storm.

The onstage crowed that had been standing perfectly still till now all carried on their journey exiting but not returning. The stage emptied leaving no one except the band on a slightly raised platform at the back of the stage and Josh huddled next to a very old looking bed. There is a look of peace on his face but he is still huddled trying to make himself as small as possible as if he is trying to blend into the background and not be noticed. In the corner perched on a chest of draws is the hooded figure of Nick surveying the scene below him.

Slowly it starts but leaving no doubt it will last,
The Tortured Soul stays hidden,
Dreaming of some long distant past.
The storm rages strong with no end in sight,
It carries on well past midnight.

From off stage arguing can be heard starting quietly at first but building to a crescendo accentuated by the rock rhythms of the band. Off to the side of the stage the dream started as the lights dimmed giving the illusion of the passage of time. The dream was of a small boy playing in the surf with his parents. All were smiling and happy as long blue and white bits of cloth representing the surf fluttered around their feet.

With the coming of dawn the storm quiets down,
The tortured soul wakes with silence being the only sound.
The tortured soul creeps afraid of every noise
Out into dawn’s new day

The lights grew brighter as the new day dawned and the arguing faded away. Josh gets up and takes a jacket from the bed. He creeps away from the bed stopping several times as if he is afraid of even the sound of himself breathing. Nick follows still hooded and not seen by Josh.

Through the jacket so thin the cold bites to the bone.
But it walks slowly on its way to school
To face private hell number two
Through the corridors it walks eyes cast down
To the sound of taunts and jeers all around

Pulling the jacket tighter around him he is passed by several people with thick warm jackets who sneer at him as he passes though a set of gates with the word school above them. Several lockers are pushed into place to give the perception of a school hallway. A dozen people of all shapes and sizes fill the hallway grabbing things out of lockers and talking noisily to their friends as Josh walk through them with his head down trying not to be noticed. First there is name calling followed by pushing and shoving. One final shove sends Josh’s books flying as a bell sounds and the hallway empties.

Josh frantically tries to recover his books and papers as Nick steps out of the shadow pushing back his hood to reveal his face. He picks up the last few papers and hands them to Josh who pauses for a moment looking into Nick’s face before grabbing the papers and hurrying away. Nick looks in the direction Josh fled for a moment before replacing his hood and fading back into the shadow.

In the classroom it quietly waits
Scorned by its classmates
The class fills and still it waits for the latest update

Josh is sitting at a desk surrounded by empty desks. Soon the desks fill with laughing kids. Each of them has something nasty to say to Josh as they sit down. In the back corner desk sits the hooded Nick apparently not seen by any of them.

Gathered they are told their teacher will not return
Taken away fighting till the end.
Deep inside it cries for the loss of its one true friend.

John enters dressed in a suit and wearing a grey wig. He starts reading from a clipboard and indicates to the video wall where the painting has been replaced by a short video of Eric being taken away by John and Blake dressed as police. A photo falls from Eric’s pocket and on the ground it lays. The camera zooms onto the photo of Eric giving Josh a hug.

The storm rages on at home that night
Quickly he runs far away out of sight
Below the bridge the current runs strong and true
To take it away if only it had the courage to

When the clip ends the stage is back to the scene with Josh huddled by his bed. The argument can be heard most of the words can’t be heard except for a few like ‘Boy’ and ‘Faggot’. He climbs through a window and runs off stage. When he returns the scene has changed to that of a bridge with a strong running current of blue and white cloth rippling below. He climbs onto the railing and pauses then climbs down a step…

Silent fingers slow it descent.
Bursting through the surface wanting life
But only for an instant.
Out of the water taking refuge under a bush
The tortured soul waits for deaths welcomed kiss

… before climbing to the top and jumping off. Several people dressed as angels catch Josh and place him in the sea of cloth. As the bridge is pushed off the stage Josh pushes himself up out of the cloth only to slip back under, then bursts out and crawls along the stage and curls up under a bush. Nick comes onto the stage still hooded. He throws it off to revel himself all dressed in white and silver. He bends down and takes Josh by the hand drawing him to his feet and gives him a kiss.

As the tortured soul greets peace at last
Anther tortured soul is born to take its place.

A smiling Josh is in center stage with Nick standing behind him off to the side of the stage. There is a bassinet with a boy and a girl dressed as a mother and father standing next to it.

In center stage Nick seems to have grown by several inches. His arms are now wings and he spreads them wide before wrapping them around Josh.

The word ‘WHY?’ is printed on the wings.

The performance ends with Nick and Josh slipping back into the shadow and John as it was in the beginning walking head down to center stage but instead of saying anything he just bowed and left the way he came in and the painting that now takes up the entire width and height of the video wall is the only light that can be seen.

Big thanks to Oldie for proof reading this story.

Any comments welcome though if you have a flame please keep it to youself as this story is of a personel nature