MIZPAH IV

***

The initial artwork for Where Is Danny? featur...

The initial artwork for Where Is Danny? featured Roy Lichtenstein’s “Pistol”. The album’s official 2011 release featured an alternate version of the same image first used by Time Magazine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jared moaned and pushed himself up against the dirt encrusted wall. The world was spinning in front of him, and although he could see that his two assailants were still talking, he couldn’t make out what they were saying. All he knew was that they had turned their backs on him, and were focused on the girl strapped to the table.

 

“What’s our move from here, Johnny?”

 

The voice belonged to the man with the knife. Danny. Danny was what the other had called him.

 

“Well,” Johnny laughed. It was a sadistic little laugh. “We finish draining the girl, and then take whatever parts we think Noe will be able to move through the Market. Then we put her back and check out with hospital security. As long as everyone still thinks we’re just collecting Organ Donations, everything will be cool.”

 

Jared squinted at the men, realizing they were both wearing jackets with some kind of symbol on the back. It was green … a green ribbon.

 

The men continued to talk while Jared slowly surveyed the situation. He could still feel the wet, sticky patch of blood mixed with the sharp pain where Danny had stabbed him in the lower back. And his head was still reeling from the job that Johnny had done hitting him with the baseball bat. Jared clenched his teeth, and let out a pitiful gasp.

 

“And we put all of it on ice,” Johnny was saying while he patted the various bags containing blood and organs. “Then we get on the street so that we can meet Noe in Pittsburgh by nidnight.”

 

Pittsburgh. Noe. Danny. Johnny. Organs … none of this mankes any damn sense.

 

Then Jared realized that both men had turned around and were leering at him. Their eyes seemed to be too big for their faces, and their mouths were stretched out like someone was tugging at the corners. They were saying something, but Jared couldn’t make it out.

 

Then Jared saw it. The gun. Danny was pointing it in his face. He could smell the oil. Tasted the faint tang of metal. It was only seconds until the flash blinded him, but he never heard the crack of gunfire.

 

Jared never even got the chance to close his eyes …

 

***

 

Poetry Needed

Writing

Image via Wikipedia

Simone Drinkwater of Casemate Publishing writes: This year sees the tenth anniversary of U.K. forces deployed in Afghanistan, and many thousands of us have been affected by events over the last decade and saddened by the casualties suffered by our forces serving there. Whilst our thoughts go out to their relations and friends who have shown immense dignity in the face of great personal loss, we can be proud of the positive contribution that our servicemen and women are making, in conjunction with our allies.

This new poetry anthology entitled Enduring Freedom takes the name from the U.N.-authorized, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission as part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom launched in 2001. Since operations began, over 80,000 personnel have been deployed to Afghanistan from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The debt of gratitude owed to our young men and women, and to their predecessors, is indeed profound.

The charity Combat Stress has seen an increase in referrals, over 70% since 2005. With our personnel involved in operations across the globe under immense strain, we have perhaps only reached the tip of the iceberg in cases relating to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In this year marking a decade in Afghanistan, this book aims to help increase awareness of these problems whilst raising vital funds for Combat Stress.

Have you been inspired or motivated by reading poetry old or new?

Have you written something yourself whilst on operations?

Does poetry help you or anyone you know during difficult times?

Calling all serving or ex-serving HM Armed Forces personnel, friends, family or colleagues!

We need your help to complete this exciting new publication. Please send your contributions, recommendations or suggestions to: enduringfreedom@tommiesguides.co.uk by 31st July 2011.

MIZPAH III

Closeup of a copper rivet on blue jeans.

Copper Rivet

♦♦♦

Jared flung himself to the side as the advancing man swung wildly at him with the large wooden club. He felt the glancing blow and the warm dullness on the side of his face. Eyes still shut, he stumbled to a stop before ramming into the cool wall of the morgue. He realized his mistake too late, however, as he felt a sharp pain in his right side.

Two of them.

The sharp pain turned into a flood of warmth running down his hip.

Blood.

He didn’t remember falling down. He forced his eyes open, seeking out his attackers. It was a natural response. Instinct from a more primal self. He squinted, and forced through the dizziness and pain.

Jared saw a tall, lanky man standing over him. He was wearing a sports shirt, jeans, and a ball cap. Despite the danger he was in, he couldn’t help but notice that the man was wearing it cocked to the side. Jared always thought that was idiotic. The further the cap cocked to the side, the more idiotic the person wearing it tended to be. At this point, however, the idiot was also holding a large wooden baseball bat. And it seemed to be painted a dark red…

Not paint. Blood.

He winced, not sure which injury hurt worse. His side was gashed open, and his head throbbed wildly. He could feel the cooling blood pooling under him, and his eye was already beginning to swell.  He squinted at his leering attacker, realizing he was talking to his partner.

“Home run.” The voice came from behind him. Probably the one who had stabbed him in the back.

The one with the bat laughed. “Yeah, third take today.” He thumped the bat in his hand. “Too bad he fell out like that.”

Jared felt the man he couldn’t see kick him hard in the side. He groaned, and twisted. He tried to push himself up off of the cold stone floor. The world was spinning, and although he could tell that the two were talking, he couldn’t make out much of what they were saying. He looked to the side, trying to focus his failing eyes on the second man who had stabbed him.

The man was small, bald, and hunched. He was wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans, and brown boots. In his right hand was a large hunting knife. “He looks bad,” said the man as he wiped a red handkerchief across the knife’s edge. “Real bad.”

“Did him good,” explained the larger man. He dropped his bat, sending it clattering across the floor. “He ain’t no good for blood, I bet.”

The bald one giggled. “We can use him for parts.”

Parts? Jared was up on his knees now, clutching at his side. Blood smeared between his fingers. His eye throbbed, shooting pain every time he moved.

“How much do you think he’s worth?”

The big man clapped his hands together and rubbed them. “Depends. I hear they are paying over a thousand for a good kidney.”

Jared moaned. He pushed himself into a sitting position. He tried to focus on the two thugs, and willed the room to stop spinning around him. His vision was clearing slightly, but he suddenly felt like he was going to vomit.

“Let’s finish this,” said the smaller one. “You get the girl unhooked,” There was a short pause. “I’ll get the guy on ice.”

Jared grimaced, and clenched his fist.

I have a bad feeling about this …

♦♦♦

 

 

 

MIZPAH II

Blood Nose

Image by Steve Kay via Flickr

♦♦♦

Just then, Jared smelled blood. The odor was ghastly.  It was logical though, since he appeared to be in a morgue.

A morgue is generally used for the storage of human corpses awaiting identification, or removal for autopsy or disposal by burial, cremation or otherwise. In modern times they have customarily been refrigerated to delay decomposition.

This room, however, was being used for quite the opposite.

Not far away, a small, ragged woman was strapped to a large metal table. She was bruised and half naked. But worse, she was hooked up to a series of machines that were siphoning off her blood. A low hum filled the room, small cogs turned rapidly on the machines, a small compressor vibrated rhythmically, and various bags dripped slowly with her precious crimson fluids.

It was almost as if she were a tree being tapped for sap. The thought was too morbid to dwell on for long.

Jared balked at the entire scene. He was too stunned to move until the woman made eye contact with him. At that moment, he rushed forward towards the girl. She gasped a warning, but it was too faint to hear.

After two steps, Jared realized that there was someone else in the room.

The air shook with an angry bellowing.

Jared never even saw the first blow coming. By the second, he was on the ground.

♦♦♦

 

MIZPAH

Wide angle shot of hospital morgue

♦♦♦

Jared had gone barely one hundred paces when he heard a faint noise. He stopped and listened again, and recognized the murmur of voices … laughing. Pushing his way through the thick cobwebs, he put his ear against the cool surface of the wall.

There, he thought. The voices are louder here.

The sounds joined with indiscernible mumbling phrases; and then suddenly, a pitiful cry.

A child’s cry.

Jared flinched at the sound of it, unexpected as it was.

Was that a sliver of light?

Squinting his eyes, he could barely make out the faint hint of light coming from a thin crack in the bottom of the wall.

He kicked the cinder blocks with the tip of his boot. There was a hollow space behind it, sure enough. Scraping away some of the dirt that had caked the stonework, Jared held the glittering lantern closer. Then, setting it down of the ground, he placed his shoulder and the flat of his hand against the stone and pushed … hard.

The rusty hinges groaned and turned like a rotary door. Immediately, Jared met with a brilliant array of flickering lamp lights. Sneezing from the disturbed dust, he shielded his nose and mouth, and stepped into the room.

At that moment, he smelled the metallic tang of blood.

♦♦♦