All the Angels Come - Chapter 14

1.1

Quartet

Masuyo’s rebellious kicks fade to an occasional twitch, and her eyes close in the arms of Ricardo. Her facial scars appear and disappear in slow waves.

 

“Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a bystander,” Masuyo trails.

 

Masuyo’s heart warms in this unaccustomed place. Ricardo lifts her legs and cradles her. Comfortable and safe. She knows this man’s arms will not be swinging at her head. Masuyo curls into fetal position, Ricardo’s bulky biceps firm against her back. Wrapping her small, gentle hand around Ricardo’s neck, tears trace narrow trails on her cheeks while she dreams of cliffs and a church she has never seen.

 

“You got change,” she affirms in a whisper.

 

Ricardo adjusts his arms and tilts his head against her warm hand. Warm, just like dear Veronica. Maybe I am not such a rock, he thinks.

 

Jay’s eyes are fixed on the familiar man with the logo-less blue cap holding a woman in his arms. It is our destiny, she thinks, replaying how he carried her up the embankment with supernatural strength. A day of ill luck that did not come in sprinkles. “You will be okay, Miss,” remembering Ricardo’s gentle kiss on her forehead. Curious how the universe manifests itself, she thinks, to see her angel at last. Miracles occurring this very day. Ricardo acknowledges her stare with an affectionate and affirming nod.

 

Yarborough gurgles attempting to respond to Lieutenant Holmquist. Small drops of blood trickle around his fingers and seep into his collar, his brows curling down around his eyes. Wheezing as he inhales, he tries again, his tongue reaching his front teeth for a word.  Sounding like a kid blowing bubbles through a straw, he dramatically surrenders and his body relaxes on the hot cement. His hands fall from around his throat revealing two small bloody marks on his neck. The back of his hand thuds on the ground and Yarborough slowly uncurls his middle finger at the Lieutenant. Just like Kiley at the sushi cafe. Lieutenant Holmquist presses her finger harder into his forehead and glares at him deeply.

 

“Captain!” she scolds.

 

His middle finger relaxes while his thumb goes up. In a long scratchy “thank”, and a barely perceptible and well dramatized “you”, Yarborough manages to offer his first ever kind sentiment to one of these seeds planted among the thorns.

 

Willis’s shadow extends over the two as he offers his free hand to the Lieutenant.

 

“Serious tin,” he says, nodding at her badge with a half-smile.

 

“Willis?” she asks, still one knee on the ground reaching for his hand.

 

Their fingers touch and their radios light up in a burst of feedback. Quickly releasing their hands, the radios go silent.  Eyes locked and curious, they touch and test again. Grabbing her wrist, he lifts her to her feet, the move scored in stereo by the oscillating frequencies of both walkie-talkies. The four blue jays mimic the radios from their perch atop the booth.

 

“Willis,” he affirms, giving in to his new name.

 

Willis tightens his hand around Sharon’s wrist, their eyes meeting just inches away. Trusting his touch, he knows that she is open to anything, that today she is rising above. There is a serious undercurrent he notices, just beyond, ankle deep, a lesion buried inside. Willis lets her wrist go as she steadies and the radios settle into silence.

 

“Lieutenant Holmquist,” she replies. “Sharon,” she says with an exhale he could feel on his face.

 

“I took the walk, Willis. The walk to the pond. That was you, right?”

 

“Is me. Yes,” he says, “Is good to take the walk,” not revealing his discovery deep in her brain. He nods toward Yarborough on the ground.

 

Sharon laughs, “Bad actor. His wounds are minor.”

 

The Lieutenant points to the divot tool in Willis’ hand. “Is that the weapon she used?”

 

Willis turns to consult with Ricardo. Masuyo is half asleep in Ricardo’s arms adjusting her position against his chest, the tails of her red coat swept by a river breeze.

 

“Es sólo en viento”, Ricardo says, comforting her.

 

Willis touches the bottom of her dangling bare foot. Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. “Stack – the – fucking – dishes,” flinching in the echo of a disabling blow to the head. Masuyo connects to the walking tour guide that can walk through another’s hardened heart. Willis feels this touch is serious powerful. The circuit closing from Ricardo through Masuyo to himself. Without words, Willis and Ricardo agree that Masuyo is one of them when Jay bridges the divine connection resting her hand on Ricardo’s shoulder.

 

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it,” says Jay.  “Mark Twain,” she points out, shaking the watermelon knife at Yarborough with her other hand.

 

Willis turns back to the Lieutenant. “Not a bystander,” he says, not knowing where the words come from.

 

“Is best,” Willis whispers, hiding Masuyo’s divot tool in his coat pocket, out of Yarborough’s line of sight.

 

“On your feet Mr. Officer Man,” Jay commands. “I’ve been to drama class fella. Now hop to it and embrace this moment.”

 

Jay extends her free hand, and Yarborough raises one eyebrow.

 

“Get over it, I’m a big girl. Bigger than most. The universe always finds balance.”

 

The captain takes Jay’s hand as she counterweights him to his feet. Yarborough shakes the few drops of blood off his hands and he clears his throat.

 

“You know Mr. Hero, ‘it is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory.’ Proverbs 25:27,” she instructs.

 

“Yes, ma’am,” he grunts.

 

“Jay, my name is Jay.”

 

“Yes, Jay. Apologies ma’am. I read the word. ‘Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law’, Psalms 119”, he brags in his bogus scratchy voice.

 

“Everybody r-e-a-d-s the word Mr. Know-it-all, but your eyes are not open big man. Now behold this wondrous thing,” slicing off a wedge of watermelon on the booth she hands it to Yarborough.

 

“Food of the angels,” she explains.

 

The sound of gravel crunching under tires overtakes the buzz of the farmers market as a police cruiser speeds in and stops with a skid. The sound echoes off the underside of the bridge momentarily silencing the crowd. Two armed officers, a young rookie patrolman, and an older detective, exit the vehicle, doors swinging, running toward the group. Their overreaction is obvious to onlookers. They holster their weapons and take it down a notch, Lieutenant Holmquist signaling “calm” with her hands. Val at the FreshFarm booth motions the cute patrolman over her way.

 

“I’ve got pictures,” Val exclaims bouncing on the soles of her feet.

 

The tall rookie stops to flip through her phone photos of the altercation.  He glances back up twice because he thinks Val is so fine.

 

The detective approaches Holmquist and Yarborough looking them up and down with a sardonic grin. The Lieutenant with blood on her hands, the Captain with blood on his neck, watermelon juice dripping from his mouth, and he’s chomping clear down to the white in the rind.

 

“So either of you officers ID the big bag lady and the other food stamp junkies?” one hand on his hip the other waving his palm across the scene.

 

“The captain is off-duty sir,” Sharon explains eyes wide.

 

“What you mean to say, Lieutenant, is that Captain Yarborough is suspended,” declares the detective, purposefully stern.

 

“And what I will want to know precisely why the captain is here, why he is bleeding and why he is jaw smacking watermelon to an annoying level,” he says, eyes darting between Yarborough and Holmquist.

 

The captain, mouth too full, raises his hand to answer, but the detective puts an index finger to his lip.

 

“Detective, apparently the Captain enjoys the farmers market,” says Sharon, eyebrows raised, making excuses for him.

 

“Don’t bullshit me Holmquist. He hates fruit, and apparently your kind.”

 

“My kind?” Sharon reflects rolling her eyes. “Jesus.”

 

“Frankly, I’m surprised to see yiz talking. Not all of us are siding with this old boy Holmquist. They’re just afraid to speak. There're all kinds of fruit at the market Lieutenant. I don’t give a hoot or holler which one tickles your happy place.”

 

“It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and our job to love. Billy Graham,” Jay affirms, raising the watermelon knife in the air like a pointer.

 

“Ma’am. Put - the - knife - on - the - ground,” the detective commands, word by word.

 

“Jay. Her name is Jay,” blurts Yarborough still chewing.

 

“I knew there was a nice church going young man in there somewhere Mr. Captain!” she declares.

 

Jay lowers her large frame gently setting the knife down. Her eyes low to the ground, she sees the miracle of miracles beneath the table drape of the booth. Sitting next to various crates of fruit is her watermelon patterned suitcase stained by the tannins of the river. The universe manifests. It is a sign. A previous life returns in a makeshift lifeboat, waiting under the latch. It is the law of attraction she is sure.

 

“Gravity got ya lady?” the detective quips sternly.

 

Jay rolls her eyes and in one impossible inhale lifts herself erect.

 

“That’s mine,” yells Val pointing to the watermelon knife, nudging her new blue uniformed friend.

 

“And under there honey, that’s mine,” says Jay, pointing to the suitcase, still catching her breath.

 

The young patrolman turns and smiles at the opportunity to respond. “It’s evidence Val ma’am, but I’ll be happy to return it later if we decide not to use it,” he says, hesitating to rest a reassuring hand on her shoulder under the watchful eye of the detective.

 

Holmquist drops the knife in an evidence bag and slides the watermelon suitcase out from under the table setting it aside. Holmquist extends Jay a comforting glance tapping the suitcase with the toe of her shoe. Jay audibly touches her hand on her heart, then presses her palms together, bowing her head to Holmquist. She turns to Ricardo and repeats. Fill this negative space, she thinks, by manifesting positivity. She turns to Willis but he is distracted, his dreads revealing a restless heart. Willis presses his fingers into his temples to hear the weak signal from her former patient.

 

Michael feels the grass under his back through his sweat soaked shirt. The sun, a couple degrees higher in the sky, fills the back of his eyelids with an orange glow., Michael hears some commotion, but he’s feeling good right now. His blood delivering an opiate rapture to every cell in his brain. There is no pain, at least for now. He rolls over on his stomach, the rattling bottle of pills pressing painlessly deep into his thigh. This is the last time, he’s thinking. He’ll be redesigning his life just like Coach Jay said. In the confluence of consciousness and bliss, he hears “Last time Michael. Serious. Is time. Take the walk soon. Rest for now.” Michael drifts back off to sleep wondering if the audible words are just the drugs talking.

 

Walking tour guides are always aware of their surroundings, but Willis refocuses his touch from Michael to the immediate situation when he hears the detective, his volume over the top.

 

“Driver’s license or identification. All of yiz!” the detective commands.

 

Val is thinking maybe that young patrolman might want her ID too. Shading the phone in the bright light with his palm the patrolman likes that their hands are close, even touching sometimes. The Alanis Morissette loop repeats.

 

What it all comes down to

Is that everything's gonna be fine fine fine

'cause I've got one hand in my pocket

 

Lip synching the words Val dips her free hand into her pocket timing the motion with the lyric and pulls out a deck of business cards bound with a hair tie. She swings out a hip and a sexy smile. The enamored patrolman, eyes fixed on the body move and her exposed midriff is thinking maybe later things will be very fine. Val palms him the card when the detective raises his voice.

 

“Officer!” throwing him a sarcastic bewildered look, turning his palms up.

 

Identification, Willis thinks. Katrina took that in the flood waters, washed my Claira away. He has nothing to say to the detective about identity. He feels the bloody divot tool in his pocket and is grateful for Val’s distraction. His jatas restless as he tries to touch what’s next. Is serious.

 

Jay looks around at her friends, her chest rising and falling in waves at the edge of knowing who she is. She glances in the direction of her faded watermelon patterned suitcase. Willis, shakes has his head at Jay with a serious look. In good time. She recalls a foggy image of a business card Michael showed her. Michael knows me, she’s thinking, but he’s asleep by the river with a bottle of bliss on his person. Best to follow Willis. Destiny has brought us together. It is coming, she thinks, a manifest of miracles.

 

Ricardo considers the papers stashed in an Archie comic book in his duffle bag in the woods. Papers best kept hidden for now. Deportation back to Cartagena, the city that took his Veronica and the policia that think he did it? Better to be here on the other side, he thinks. Muttering “el otro lado”, he shrugs his shoulders toward the detective, disturbing Masuyo in his arms, her legs hanging by the knees at his elbow.

 

“Let’s search yiz then,” the detective says. “Holmquist! Looks like lover boy over there is busy interviewing a witness. I’ll take the jumping bean and sleeping beauty. You take the other two.”

 

Ricardo thinks that maybe the officer could, at least, be original. Holmquist eye rolls the detective mouthing the words “jump-ing-bean?”

 

“Wha?” he belches with a smile but he knows precisely whah, as he approaches Ricardo and Masuyo.

 

“I am here to protect you,” Ricardo The Rock De Los Rios whispers deep, his lips touching Masuyo’s ear.

 

He looks up at the cross section of beams, contemplating his destiny under bridges where his paths cross too. The bridges of Cartagena and the overpass where the watermelon lady came tumbling down into his life. A life of missing parts, like Jay, he considers, holding Masuyo in his arms under the bridge that shades the farmers market. Standing close, the tall dark man that crosses the bridge to his soul. There is meaning to all this here on the other side, he thinks.

 

Ricardo places Masuyo lightly on her feet and grazes her cheek softly with the back of his dark hands. The face of La Virgin. His compassionate touch quells Masuyo’s inclination to escape, her legs tensing then relaxing. “Thou shalt not be a perpetrator”, she thinks, still finding satisfaction in pressing rewind on the image of Masato falling off the curb and the thud of the vehicle that killed him.

 

The detective stands with his arms crossed staring down the Lieutenant, then Ricardo and Masuyo scanning back and forth.

 

“Are you two ready for a pat down, or would yiz like some watermelon before we begin? I mean it’s a beautiful day, even for criminals,” he says, his lips curling to match the sarcasm.

 

“Let’s get on with it Holmquist!” he shouts.

 

Holmquist heads quickly to Willis. She hunts for a smile in his expressionless face as his dreads move in subtle waves, then pats him down beginning with his shoulders. Their thoughts conjoin and surface with each touch. Today she sees things as they are, like Skye, King of the Pond, open to anything. There is no static here, reading things loud and clear.

 

Lieutenant Sharon Holmquist turns to make sure the detective isn’t looking, but he hasn’t taken his eyes off the scene, supervising every move, including that of the preoccupied patrolman. If he would just look the other way, she supposes, when her feathered associates begin chirping like a street-corner quartet. The detective turns toward the blue jay’s commotion, and Sharon quickly reaches into Willis’ pocket, extracts the divot tool and slips it under her shirt. Then, without pause, she reaches into his other pocket and for the walkie-talkie, the speaker crackling until she is clear of him.

 

“You’ll be needing this later I imagine,” she whispers up at Willis, smiling.

 

Sharon clips the corroded radio to her belt and acts out the rest of the search while Willis stays alert to the surroundings and the minutes to come.

 

 “You’re next. Miss Jay,” Sharon says sweetly, being careful not to say “ma’am.”

 

 “Lots of padding to cover hon. Better get to work, the patrolman has had enough time to manifest his courage to ask the young lady out,” Jay quips winking at the tall amorous rookie. By this time, it is obvious to all that the motions of flipping through evidential photos on Val’s phone is together time.

 

The detective sends a flippant glance at Jay and then the patrolman as he commands Masuyo to raise her arms.

 

“Be gentle with her, she is healing,” Ricardo warns.

 

“Healing from what Doctor Meh – hee - co?” the detective says in a poorly executed accent.

 

Ricardo has some words to throw back at the detective that thinks he is so hilarious but decides to take a breath. That’s what Jay would do. Let’s not put more negative energy into the universe. The detective pats down Masuyo’s petite frame. Discomforted and manhandled, her scars reappear like soft shadows.

 

“She’s clean,” he calls to Holmquist, opening a blood collection kit.

 

“I’ll need to take a specimen,” he declares, looking down at her red-stained hands.

 

Dotting the blood off her fingers, he looks back up at her face discerning the scars. The not so funny detective doesn’t recall seeing marks on Masuyo’s face. Shaking his head, he’s thinking maybe his investigative skills need sharpening or he could be working fewer hours.

 

“You are next doc-tor-o,” he says under his breath, carefully sealing the fresh sample.

 

Masuyo repositions herself directly in front of Ricardo so fast it startles the detective. He instinctively reaches toward his baton, but stops bewildered and confused when he sees Masuyo’s scars have disappeared.

 

“What’s happening here? Yiz see that? Is this a farmers market magic act?” the detective asks, raising his voice trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense to investigators of his tenure.

 

Ricardo rests his hands on Masuyo’s shoulders and nudges her to the side. “Gracias dear lady, it’s okay, there is no danger here.” Masuyo bows her head and relaxes her expression.

 

“It is the heat detective,” says Ricardo in his best Mexican doctor’s voice, holding his arms up for the search.

 

Patting Ricardo down, dust blooms off his dusty pants. The detective feels a small tube in his pocket.

 

“What’s this? Coke? Meth? You with the cartel? Take it out! Slow!” the detective commands.

 

The detective stands back, hand resting on his baton. Ricardo reaches into his pocket and reveals a tube of watermelon lip balm, glancing guiltily at Jay who immediately blows a kiss his way.

 

“It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected, Mark Twain,” she says forgivingly.

 

“You two know each other?” the detective asks as Ricardo attempts to hand him the lip balm.

 

“No thank you doc-tor-o. You keep that.” Ricardo looks at him and uncaps the tube near his mouth, twists the bottom and spreads the balm.

 

“The lady and I have met,” he says, smacking his lips at the detective.

 

Lieutenant Sharon Holmquist could care less about searching the watermelon knife-wielding woman who is everything sweet could be. 

 

“Are you good?” Holmquist asks Jay as she pretends to search her, going through the motions.

 

“Dear, everything I have is tucked in my soul and in that suitcase,” Jay explains.

 

Holmquist runs her fingers through Jays hair, primping with both hands adjusting the way it falls. Noticing the thin scar just below Jay’s hairline, she reaches up and lands a gentle kiss on her sweaty forehead. Yarborough clears his throat a couple times, louder with each touch.

 

“Find anything, Lieutenant?” the detective asks, rolling his eyes at the captain.

 

“She’s fine,” Lieutenant Holmquist answers.

 

“Then let’s get some names starting with you, dreadlocks,” pointing with a dismissive arm and lazy finger at Willis.

 

The quartet pass glances like dominoes. The detective pulls his pad and pen out of his shirt pocket, licks his finger and flips to a blank sheet a dozen well-worn pages in.

 

“Let’s have it,” he blurts impatiently, not looking up from the pad.

 

Willis exerts some effort to still his dreads so not to call more attention to whatever is happening to him and his new friends.

 

“Now!” the officer yells, tapping his gun strap with the pencil looking straight at Willis. Willis looks at his new friends and they all agree with their eyes.

 

“I’m,” Willis stutters deepening his voice. “I am Rasta-man. Serious.” he says, drawing a circle around his ear, like the lifeguard did not long ago.

 

“I’m doc-toro,” Ricardo says, accent purposefully thick, “from Me-hee- co,” with a grin creasing the side of his mouth.

 

“I stack the fucking dishes,” blurts Masuyo, swinging her cape-like red coat behind her.

 

“I’m a fat bitch,” says Jay, smiling big, like a crescent of watermelon across her entire face.

To be continued.

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