Confronting The Demon
Bawd Beam stood his ground in the face of the screaming man. He held onto the wooden branch he had grabbed from the sidewalk with an embracing gambol , it had fallen from one of the old oaks that lined the street. The man screamed, “YOURRRRRRRR CRAPPPPPP, YouRRRRR a friGGGGEEEENNN piece of GARbage……YOU, YOU, YOU are A DEMOOONNNNNN!” his screams reverberated off of Beam in waves of sound.
Beam tensed and gripped the branch tighter. Ravaging the resistance, the man attached a short blade he had been hiding in his long waistcoat to the narrow end of a broomstick he had been waving. The knife clicked perfectly into the tip and he spun the stick in a slow whooshing arc. The setting sun didn’t shed any light on the situation and it was senseless in that place and moment of time. Beam had experienced the greater portion of what most considered life and he knew these occurrences would happen every now and again as they had in the past. He thought back to the self-satisfied man who had undressed and donned a black robe in the center of Safety Supermarket last month. He had approached Beam with wild eyes as all of the others had. He had thrown a punch at Beam, in perfect condition for the fight, beam had punched him square in the nose. The robed man had fallen to the floor of the supermarket in a bleeding heap. The police arrived a few moments later. It had been a close call. A 38. Cal pistol fell from the left front pocket of the robe as the police escorted him to their cruiser.
He thought back again to the Wayward Home for the Unsheltered. He had been on his way to his apartment when the homeless man had thrown a clod of dirt at his back, “You sonofabitch!” he had screamed as he stomped and fussed on the crumbling sidewalk. Beam had turned and he had come running full force. Beam stepped aside and the man had tripped falling into the street knocking himself out as he banged his head on the unyielding pavement. Beam had shrugged and moved on. There had been dozens and it seemed as if the madness would continue eternally, maybe it would he thought as the crazed man jabbed at him with the sharp end of the stick, maybe it would.
Beam sidestepped the jab and grabbed the attackers arm twisting it and causing him to scream in panic. The knife wielding man jerked his arm free and ran to the other side of the street. The sun bled spears of red light against the buildings behind the man, outlining the sky in an eerie aura. He was a screaming shadow and a mad happenstance as a few cars rolled between them. He finished yelling and ran around the corner of one of the buildings. Beam didn’t wait he simply headed back up the street.
If he thought about his circumstance for more than an instant he might come to the conclusion that a percentage of the world had gone insane, off the wall and rocker both. He knew it didn’t make sense yet here he was in that situation over and over again. The repetition was perpetual and the attackers were getting more violent as time went forward. The whisper of an ancient voice filled his head for a moment and he listened to the inner voice cautiously. “You will be tested and the sun shall shine in the way of the inquisitor, the accuser, the aggressor and the thief!” he listened and the whisper became louder until it filled his consciousness. “You will be tested Beam, tested for the strength of the gods and the sake of mankind, tested Beam, Tested.” Maybe he was crazy, maybe the voice he was hearing wasn’t real, of ethereal smoke and crazed illusion, Maybe it just wasn’t.
Beam rubbed his forehead as he walked and it came away sandy, gritty with the sweat of a thousand battles fought and won, “…a test…” the voice continued, “…a test.”
Beam moved to the far end of the block and neon lit the sidewalks in an evanescent glow. The signs on main street lit the night and he felt their warmth, their invitation to distraction. The sky was a haze above part smoke and part foggy illusion. Twinkling stars where are you he thought as he starred up into the night.
He paused for a moment and read the sign “HOODAAS GOODS!” it was a convenience store and like the other signs this one glowed a neon welcome. Welcome to the other side, welcome to the Hotel California, Welcome to closed doors and crazed killers welcome, welcome, welcome. He looked inside the front entrance and all seemed calm. There was a clerk behind the counter counting lottery tickets and drinking a Gatorade. A fan blew cold air from the open door into the street and it smelled like hot dogs and potato wedges. Seems safe he said to himself as he walked through the front door.
What looks and what is he thought as he saw the woman in the floor. She was waving her arms back and forth as she lay in the floor almost as if making snow angels. “Hello baby.” she said looking up at him from the dirty tiled floor.
She looked familiar, his wife……his girlfriend he wasn’t sure. She blew him a kiss and he almost grinned when he saw the clerk. He was a greenish cast and his nose was bleeding profusely. The droplets of blood were pouring from his nose and down his chin. “SONOFABITCH!” he screamed in some unidentifiable accent. Beam took in a deep breath, grabbed a Twinkie from one of the display racks and hurried back out the door.
As he made his way back to his apartment he thought for a moment. Maybe the book had been real, the one he had used months ago, eons ago………he had believed that it was foolishness but nevertheless things had changed after he read the spell from the book of incantations. Maybe it had been real, maybe a gate had opened somewhere…he wasn’t sure but the solution wasn’t apparent. Maybe he could find the spell, the book again and work it out, maybe he had changed things permanently, he still wasn’t sure.
The night wore on and Beam made it back to his little apartment in one piece. He found the book of Black Magic Spells in the back of a kitchen cupboard. He had placed it there after smashing a cockroach with it, in fact the cockroach was still dead and still beneath the book. Grabbing the book he leafed through the pages.
The next day came and Beam ventured out into the world again. People passed him on the sidewalk and the blur of busy cars raced by him. Maybe he had done it, maybe the world was as it should be again.
There was a commotion in front of him something big moving down the street. As it became clearer he realized he hadn’t improved the situation he had made it worse.
There was a giant man in red flannel stomping up the sidewalk. Each footfall broke the concrete path and amazingly the people around him didn’t seem to notice. He passed a policeman who patted the man on the arm and said, “Hey Skip.” Skip grunted and a belch of fire issued from his mouth. Beam paused for a moment and crossed the street away from the giant and the prospect of dieing.
The sky was a brilliant blue nearly cloudless and the dawn sang her rhythm with the horizon. Beam paused hearing the ancient voice again, “Prepare for the first test of will Beam, Prepare.” Beam sighed and resigned himself to the idea that this set of circumstances was not going to abate.
He went back to his apartment and grabbed the book again, the next spell read,
“Misstep mistake of this I partake,
Let it be true to the wind and
The sky, I’ll do it or try, by the saints
We sigh, by tears and by seams and everything in
Shadow, by all in dark, this weave like the bark
Of a dog in hunt and a flicker of hope,
Let the sun be seen by the souls that seem
To be haunting the world in song
And spite to win the fight, the door saith the light and the
Best of what might!”
Beam lay down on the gray worn sofa, there were bare patches where the cloth had worn through but it was still comfortable. He slept and he dreamed.
He was in the desert searching for something elusive, unbidden and magic. The sky was burnt orange and amber as he walked across the dry desert floor. The air was hot and motionless as secret waves of whispering rite coursed through him. Beam yielded to the heat and took out his canteen. He unscrewed the cap and tilted the bottle to his parched lips. The liquid was warm and coppery, suddenly he realized what it was…blood, thick and viscous. He spit and a gob of red splattered against the dry sand in a tiny plume of dust. He wiped his lips vigorously and the side of his palm came away crimson stained. In the distance a coyote howled and barked at the approaching storm clouds that had mysteriously appeared on the horizon. Beam listened and the coyote quit howling instead there was a sound like rolling thunder and explosive plodding reverberations moving closer to him from the distant hills of sand. The horizon grew dark and a few lightening bolts lit the sky as a figure appeared. It was huge, as large as a ten story building. Beam hid behind a nearby boulder and waited with express terror as the giant approached.
It had several clumps of long black hair hanging from around it’s waist, he could see what the hair was attached to…heads, giant heads three or four of them hanging from its belt. The black hair from the severed heads waved and floated across the sky casting a flittering shadow across the sand like dancing snakes. The figure suddenly turned and looked to the western horizon. It hesitated for a moment and moved in that direction as Beam awoke to the sound of crashing thunder and raindrops pounding against the living room window.
The book lay in a puddle of Chocolate milk he had spilled while thrashing in his sleep. “Dammit!” he said as he grabbed the book and wiped it on the couch. The last few pages were saturated with the chocolate and some of the ink was smeared. He looked out the window as flashes of bright headlights moved up and down the street beneath. It was getting dark out and it was raining in a miserable drizzle. He thought the likelihood that the new spell had worked was in dissent with reality and what it was at this point.
Beam changed cloths and threw an overcoat on as he prepared to go out into the night toward the unknown. He was on the sidewalk outside of the apartment building a few moments later. He looked up into the dimming sky and saw streaks of indigo and the soft glow of the surrounding city lights. Warm droplets of rain beaded against his skin and rolled across his checks; he wiped his brow and ran his fingers through his hair. The rain felt good and it reminded him that he was still with the world, hoping for a second he thought about the spell book, maybe the new spell had worked.
He began to walk toward the business district with the intention of stopping by a shopping court to pick up a few things when the sound of screaming filled the air in bellowing belches. The air around Office Depot turned scarlet and emerald for a moment as the shadow of a tall man appeared in the doorway. He was screaming and throwing bundles of paper into the street, next came an office chair and finally a filing cabinet. Beam approached the scene cautiously. He left muddy footprints on the blank sheets of typing paper that littered the sidewalk.
“YOUUUUUUUUUU……..” the man screamed pointing at him. Beam tried to figure out what was wrong with the man, something about his face didn’t seem right. He moved into the soft sodium glow of the streetlights and in a moment of shocked realization Beam understood what was wrong with the crazed man. He screamed again, “YYYYOOOOUUUUUU WILL PAYYYYYYY!” Beam watched as the tiny pair of lips rolled and shouted from the center of the man’s forehead, he had paused for a moment to brush the hair away from his mouth, it was hanging in stringy clumps across what should have been his forehead. His eyes were tiny black orbs on either side of his head, close to his ears like an insect a grasshopper or a praying mantis. Giant brown wings opened on his back and they flapped making a buzzing sound for a moment. He screamed again, “YOOOUUUUUU will pay!” his voice trailed off to a whisper as he cocked his head seeming to listen to something in the distance. A car honked in the street and the exhaust from a passing truck filled the air with the smell of diesel. Suddenly he rose in the air as his wings gave him flight. His mouth opened and a long sharp stem pushed from between his lips almost like a bees stinger or maybe a mosquito. He flew at Beam fast and he only had a second to respond. Grabbing the stinger he swung with full force. The man was impossibly light in the air and flew in a smooth arc toward an oncoming car.
The car screeched to a halt but the car had done its duty smashing the maniac to a pulp against the silver front grill of the car. Obviously the confrontations hadn’t ended and they were still after him in the form of monsters and crazed monsters at that. Why were they angry he asked himself in confusion, why were they attacking him? Were they afraid, was it a case of mistaken identity or was it just the Damn book, the incantation that had started it all.
His pupils dilated and hunger aspired to move him away from the accident toward equilibrium, sustenance and a full stomach. Clarity explained the threadbare existence he was shouldering with a perpetual quest for reassuring bondage, slavery to the dollar, the next buck in his wallet. He had .53 cents in his wallet. Dank air drifted in waves from the sewer grate he was standing on. Tapping his pocket he clicked of the amount , “Fiftythree Cents.” he said aloud to himself. Dreadful waves of fear overwhelmed him in a veil of silent darkness.
Ron Koppelberger (Writer, Poet, Artist, Musician and Editor for Static Movement)
My books are available here as well as at Barnes and Nobel and Books A Million:
Unto The Night-Createspace.com/4161392
The House Of The Rising Poetry-Createspace.com/4159261
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