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July 2010 Volume 12 , Issue 7 submit to us!
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Angela+Has+Company
by Joseph D Venanzi -- Contributing Author [Email This Story]

The old woman sat up stiffly in bed, her eyes glazed, her face pained. Her attention was focused on the television. And although the show was terrible and she longed to watch another she couldn't raise her arms to pick up the remote on her lap. For the little miracle maker coursing through her veins, which she solely depended on to loosen her tightened muscles and temporarily ease her pain, had yet to work.

Silently she prayed for no further delay. Then she could sample the simple pleasures of a normal existence for a couple hours until the medicine lost its effectiveness and she'd have to begin this horrible process again. For her life amounted to all too brief respites sandwiched between long periods of pills and pain.

And Angela had had her fill of both.

"Rose, please come sit with me!" she cried out in a voice no louder than a whisper.

"I'm in pain and I don't want to be alone."

But there was no answer to her desperate plea, no stir in the darkened house. Then she remembered it was Tuesday and her daughter always went out with her girlfriends on Tuesday nights. Now she was forced to accept the unpleasant reality that it would be hours before Rose returned. And worse, that she was completely on her own.

Unless Jimmie came over and kept her company.

It had been a long time since she last saw her dear friend. It was on a night very much like this, too, when Jimmie sat beside her and gently held her hand until the medicine worked. Throughout his visit they listened to scratchy old records and knowing each song by heart they hummed along.

Jimmie promised he'd return one day when she needed him most. He even explained how she could reach him. Angela thought that tonight was the perfect time for a reunion.

"What did Jimmie tell me to do?" she wondered, taxing her brain. "If only I could remember he'd be beside me now!"

She had almost figured it out when her attention was drawn to the unsettling sounds of shattering glass and a door opening.

"Rose?" she cried.

But she knew it couldn't be. If her daughter had locked herself out she'd have used the key hidden under the plastic rock in front of the house.

"Jimmie?" she wondered, momentarily getting her hopes up.

But no, she knew it couldn't have been him either. Jimmie never used the door.

This left only one possibility, an intruder was making his way through the house! And it wouldn't be long until he discovered the light seeping out from under her first floor bedroom door.

"If only my medicine had worked!" she thought. "Then I wouldn't be trapped in bed! I could have hided in the closet where I'd be safe! I could have--"

Angela was startled when her bedroom door was pushed opened and in walked a young man carrying a sack. Briefly she thought her son Jack was visiting. The young man looked very much like him; he was tall, quite thin and had shaggy black hair. But then Angela remembered that Jack was dead.

No, she had been correct the first time. It was an intruder, and she wanted no part of him.

"Go away!" she screamed in a clear and powerful voice confided solely to inside her head. Aloud she managed only an ineffective whisper.

The intruder mockingly tilted one ear forward and imitated the voice of an elderly man.

"What's that? Speak up, missy! I'm hard-a hearing!"

"Go away or my daughter will call the police," she said in a soft, frail voice.

"Nice try, grandma," he replied using his own voice. "But I know for a fact your daughter's out and won't be back for hours," he replied and the color drained from Angela's face. "That's right, I've done my homework. I know all about you people."

He calmly strolled to her dresser and rummaged through her drawers.

"You know, I like a cake walk but this is way too easy--a house with no alarm that's empty except for a bedridden old prune. Your daughter really screwed you. At least she could own a watch dog."

The young man doubled his efforts but the results yielded the same. "Jesus, there's nothing here but old lady clothes. Where's all the jewelry?"

Angela mumbled her answer.

"What? Why the hell don't you speak up?"

"I'm trying," she whispered. "It hurts to speak."

"Yeah, well try harder," he said, crossing beside her. "Now where's the damn jewelry?"

"Where you'll never find it."

In response he hopped up on the bed and sat on top of Angela, tightly wrapping his thighs around her legs. Still not satisfied, he bent forward and pinned her arms down.

She grimaced from the pain and turned her focus towards the ceiling.

"What are you a lesbian? I'm young and hot, why don't you wanna look at me? Don't I excite you? Because to tell you the truth, grandma, you're stirring up something deep down inside me."

Angela said nothing.

"Here's the deal. The sooner you tell me where the jewelry is hidden, the sooner I get off your bed and out of your life. Now spill the beans."

She shook her head. "My husband gave them to me," she whispered. "It's all I have left of him."

Displeased with her answer he tightly gripped his fingers around her face and she moaned in pain.

"You want to see him tonight?"

"Jimmie, help me!" she cried, spitting out each word through her hideously contorted mouth.

"Who are you call--hey, knock it off already. You can't fool me. I know there's nobody else in the house."

"Please, Jimmie. Please."

"You might as well give me what I want because nobody's coming to help. Here, I'll prove it."

He let go of her face and cupped his hands around his mouth imitating a bullhorn.

"Hey Jimmie, don't let your girlfriend down! If you want a piece of me, come and get me!"

He stopped yelling and shrugged his shoulders. "Chicken, huh?"

"What? You're surprised your boyfriend's a no show?" he asked after returning his attention to Angela. "I told you it's just you and me. Now, you going to tell me where you keep the stuff? Or do I gotta get rough?"

Although she knew it would be incredibly painful, Angela leaned forward and spoke into his ear. There'd be no mistaking her this time, her voice was loud and clear.

"Go to hell!"

Tired of her insolence he punched her in the face. Then he returned to the dresser where he wildly pulled out each drawer and emptied its contents on the floor.

Angela, blood dripping out of her nostrils and onto her chin, quietly began humming to herself.

"Knock it off."

But there was no stopping her. And as the humming grew louder and louder the sound seemed to bounce off the walls and come from every direction.

"Shut up, bitch, or I'll mash you!"

Her eyes widened and she stopped humming. But it wasn't the intruder's demand she obeyed.

"Jimmie? Yes, Jimmie. I'll tell him."

"Huh? Tell me what?"

"The jewelry is on the top shelf of the closet."

"Hey, now that's more like it. You tell your ghost he's all right."

He walked to the closet, put his hand on doorknob and smirked at Angela.

"If this was a cartoon I'd open the door and get a bowling ball dropped on my head and I'd shatter into a million little bits and pieces. Then you and your ghost boyfriend would do a victory dance. But this is real life. And in real life I win."

He opened the door and screamed as some invisible force yanked him into the closet, then abruptly shut the door behind him. Just as quickly the closet door reopened and Angela's eyes followed invisible footsteps to the foot of her bed.

She smiled warmly at the empty space beside her.

"Thank you, Jimmie. Yes, it's nice to see you again, too. What would you like to do tonight? Oh yes! Let's listen to records and hum along."

 
 
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Features -- July 2010 -- Mid Month Issue
 








Joseph D Venanzi
-- Additional Work --