By Delroy Nesta Williams
And he was pushed into the back of the van, handcuff still tight on his wrist, as he struggled to sit up. He wriggled his way in the small space until he was able to secure his balance although his arms behind his back still made it a little uncomfortable as he was forced to lean forward. There as a sly, dark look upon his face as he looked straight ahead without blinking. Not once did he turn to his right hand side to look at me in the back seat.
“What are you in here for?” he asked with a coldness in his voice that seemed more of a defense mechanism than an outright dark murmur.
“My boyfriend,” was all that I could muster.
“Oh, figures,” he replied, still looking straight head, “and where is he?”
“He got away,” I said, “but I didn’t.”
“That’s usually how it goes,”
“So what about you?” I asked. “Why are you in here?” to brush aside my own predicament.
And for the first time, he turned to me. His eyes lightened up and he gave me a grin that showed his spaced, uneven teeth. He wasn’t bad looking; in fact, he was almost cute except for that odd look in his eyes. He licked his lips, looked at me continuing his awkward pause in the conversation and then in an intonation that sounded a bit too easy going for a common guy spoke up to me for the first time.
“Love did this to me!”
“Love?” I questioned, “Why would love get you arrested?”
“Are you sure you want to know the answer?” he replied as he turned back to stare straight ahead into the black night outside the van.
“Yes!” I confirmed although skeptical about his previous response.
“Love did this to me!” he again retorted, smiling and licking his lips. This time with a certain confidence like he was cherishing what he was about to declare to me.
He then moved in closer, leaned over and for the first time I saw a menace in his eyes that scared me.
“Don’t be afraid,” he pronounced, “nobody should be afraid.”
“I am not; I just want you to keep your distance!”
“Okay,” he responded as he recoiled back into his original position.
“I honestly don’t know how and when it started. I just know that she liked it just as much as I did. She never complained, not once. She said no but she never meant it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“My girlfriend, she never said no!”
“Yes, she was perfect. A beautiful specimen like she had been plucked out of a magazine. I remember the first time I saw her. I was preaching. It was actually an Easter message. It was raining that Sunday morning. She and her parents strolled into the Church late and took a seat in the back. I was immediately struck by her beauty although the rain had reduced her curls into a mop-styled hairstyle but her eyes lighted up the room. I stopped the sermon, only briefly, to ensure that they were placed closer to the front as visitors. It was almost seven years ago.”
“So you’re a pastor?” I asked, now understanding his careful use of words during the early part of their conversation.
“Yes, that I am!” he said, clearly disturbed by the question.
“Please go on,” I urged.
“Okay,” he responded almost teasingly, “where was I?”
“She was beautiful but what was her name?”
“Oh yes, she is,” as he paused again, “her name is Ashley… Ashley Pierre. She’s nothing like you though!”
“What do you mean?” I questioned again.
“Well… uhmm, she’s tall, slim and butter-skinned. She has a golden smile and strong cheek bones, like a model, unlike you who is just plain to my eyes.”
“Are you going to listen or are you going to keep disturbing me?” he scolded in total disregard for my surprise at his rudeness.
The rain had continued to beat against the van and fogged up the glass so much that I could only make out one figure outside. It must have been a police officer who was surveying the actions inside and around the automobile. The rest of the policemen were still inside the Church and although a small crowd had now gathered, they were still kept a good distance from the site. The heightened voices and excitement of the crowd could be heard over the thud of the beating rain although neither of us could make out exactly what was being said at the time.
“Her parents became devoted Christians who came to every Church event. They were pillars in the assembly over the past 7 years as she grew into a fine young lady. From time to time she would even participate in the worship service. She had the voice of an angel, if I can say so. I remember the time when she first got the courage to sing in front of the congregation. It was raining too, a little less than this but once she started to belt out her tune, the showers subsided and rays of sunshine filled the halls of the Church. It was then that it was made evident to me that the Lord had blessed my life with this young lady.”
“She sounds heavenly,”
“That she was… that she is, just an angel. She was so eager to be around me at Church, that I just knew she felt the same way about me. I recall at an outing, her family’s first, she came over when I was talking to the others. She was awestruck by my stories and asked questions way beyond her age. She was so eager to learn that I decided to mentor her. She wasn’t always a love interest, our love grew. It grew beyond my wildest imaginations. I found myself staying up all night thinking about her, she haunted my dreams. I wanted every day to be a Sunday. I even took over the Sunday school class so that I would spend more time with her. She was inspiring my every action.
“Sounds like you really loved her?”
“Yes, I did. She loved me too… I am sure!”
“So what did she do? Where did she work?”
“I will get there! Patience!”
“We have forever?” I asked sarcastically.
“I think I do,” he answered back, “forever is not that very long for me now.”
His answers always seemed so dismissive but I was intent on finding out as much as I could from our brief time together.
“She once came to me about a problem she was having with someone at her school. It seems he was hounding her too much,” he continued. “He was becoming a nuisance and I couldn’t have that.”
“So she was a teacher then?” I interjected.
“I confronted the young man and he confirmed to me that he would stop harassing her. I think that situation brought us a lot closer. She would frequent my office almost every day. We would have these wonderful talks about her future plans, about Christianity and her need to be saved. She actually wanted to be baptized but I persuaded her that she needed to be more firm in the word. And then one day…” he stopped, as he voice dropped off.
“What happened?” I asked, almost too eagerly that he looked up at me.
“I don’t know but she leaned over and kissed me! It was just over two years ago. We had been talking and I was busy telling her about my day when it happened. At first I was shocked but then I raised my hands to her face and pulled her against me. Her lips were so soft, like they had never been kissed before. Her strawberry lip gloss made me not want to stop at all, until she pulled away and started to cry.”
“She cried? But why?”
“I don’t know!”
“You didn’t ask?”
“No, honestly I didn’t. At the time I didn’t want to know. I was just happy that she did. Besides, she left almost immediately in a quick sprint. We didn’t see each other for a few days until she returned to my office to apologize.”
“She apologized for a kiss?”
“Yes, she did. But I sat her down and explained to her that it was perfectly normal for one person to kiss another. There was nothing to be ashamed of and that I had even enjoyed the kiss. She promised me that it wouldn’t happen again and that we could still remain friends.”
“Just friends? I thought she loved you?”
“Yes, she did… she does! We continued to see each other like before, almost like nothing had changed. But it did. I would daydream about her kiss. I would lick my lips when I thought of her. Any hint of the strawberry lip gloss would put me in a daze.”
“So she did kiss you again?”
“A few weeks later. This time it was in Church. We were seating on one of the benches chit-chatting when my Bible fell from my lap. We both reached down to pick it up and as we were coming back up, I kissed her forehead. A gentle kiss. She gave me an awkward smile and then left towards the back, making her way to the washroom. I followed her slowly, knocking on the door. It took a little while but she did open the door.”
“In the washroom of the Church?” I exclaimed.
“I didn’t enter. I just stood in the doorway as she made her way towards me. She hugged me and at that moment my whole body was awoken. It felt like love, it was love. We stood there for a little while, her arms in mine, until we heard a noise at the entrance of the building. She ran back into the washroom and I made my way back to the benches.”
“So who was it?”
“It wasn’t anybody, just birds or a vagrant I guess! I kept seeing her off and on until tonight. We were madly in love but had to be careful and patient. Tonight was supposed to be our moment but something went wrong.”
“I still don’t know. I just heard a loud noise which flung my office door open and then the police dragged me out into this vehicle.”
“So she’s still in there? She’s still in the Church?”
“Yes, I suppose!”
“But I don’t understand, why would the police put you in handcuffs for that?”
“She’s probably talking to the police now, or somebody. She wore my favourite pink dress today and came over directly from school. It was all happening like I had imagined. It was her birthday today, so I bought her a double chocolate fudge cake to celebrate the occasion. She didn’t even get a chance to open up her other gift.”
“So what was it? The other gift?”
“I can’t tell you,” he responded with a sheepish grin on his face and a light in his eyes, “it was going to be her surprise.”
“No? why not? But I want to know!” I solicited.
“I would have to kill you if I did!” he said with a cold stare as shivers came over me.
It didn’t seem like any joke and suddenly the man who had just begun to open up to me took on this eerie tone and strange posture. He leaned away from me and coiled up against the door and started to jeer, clapping uncontrollably.
“It was perfect, it was perfect,” he sounded over and over again shaking his head in a forward motion almost knocking it on the car seat in front of him.
“Get me out of here, Get me out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed, for the first time petrified for my life. The door flung open as a police officer grabbed him by the arms and dragged him out.
“That’s my girlfriend, that’s my girlfriend!” he shouted out, his eyes pointing to the direction of the Church.
I turned to my right and although the rain had fogged up the window of the van I could make out four or five bodies. They all strolled away from the van but the only one who wore a pink dress among them was a frail-bodied young girl but I couldn’t bring myself to believe he was referring to her all along. There’s no way it could have been her.
“She looks thirteen,” I said to myself, “only about thirteen!” shaking my head in disbelief. I suddenly felt extremely sick to my stomach after a quick reflection into what this man just told me. I hope Miss Pierre can recover from this, I hope.