Well, perhaps you had a day off for President's Day, like I did. I spent the day driving to visit my family in NJ, and thus completely forget that it is a fabulous Monday, exactly the day I promised to publish the next part of my story.
Oh well. You now have less time to wait for the next installment! See? Positive thoughts!
There she was again. Across the street, coming from a dark alley. What was she doing back there? An innocent girl like that, there is no reason for her to walk around in dark alleys. At least none that Charlie could imagine, but she must know something that he didn’t. Actually, a girl like that, she must know a lot of things that he didn’t. But Charlie wanted to know what they were. He wanted to know who she was, what she thought, and why she did the things she did.
So he did what any self-respecting, desperate man would do. He followed her.
He quickly crossed the street and followed a few feet behind her for a couple blocks. She didn’t stop to talk to anyone. She didn’t look in any direction. She simply watched her feet and walked briskly through the streets, dodging anyone who might slow her down. After a few blocks, she slipped into a dark house and locked the door.
Charlie stopped in front of the house and considered his options. Who was this girl who seemed so afraid of the world? He decided he was never going to get to talk to her unless he found some excuse to accidentally run into her. He walked up and down the streets, his mind turning with ideas of how to meet this girl.
“How come you never used to come play with us before, Mr. Charlie?” Polly asked the young man as she adjusted the bonnet she had placed on his head.
“Probably because he knew you would dress him up like that,” Lucas rolled his eyes at her.
Polly responded by sticking out her tongue and looked back at Charlie for his answer. Children never forget when they have asked a question.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he laughed slightly. “I uh, I guess I just wasn’t looking to find some friends. It seems one never finds what one is looking for.”
“Are you looking for something?” Lucas asked.
Charlie nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“What is it?” Polly wanted to know.
“Well, it’s not what is it; it’s more like who is it,” Charlie responded.
All three were curious now. “Who is it?” Collin asked. They gathered around him, waiting expectantly for a romantic story or a tale of adventure.
“Um…a girl,” Charlie laughed, a bit uncomfortable from the attention.
“I knew it!” Polly uttered under her breath.
“Why are you trying to find this girl?” Lucas wondered.
“Because she’s beautiful,” Charlie responded.
“Ohh?” Lucas said uncertainly. “You, you don’t even know her?”
“Well that’s why I’m trying to find her.” Charlie explained. “I want to get to know her.”
“Why on earth would you want to know someone you don’t already know?” Lucas could not understand.
“Because she is different from me.” Charlie explained. “Because she has lived a different life and understands different ideas and knows different things. I don’t want to live in my small world; I want to know what she knows.”
Lucas sat there and thought about that for a moment. Then he decided he didn’t understand it, and they went back to playing make believe.
Polly walked around to each person, and the chipped doll, pouring imaginary tea into their cups. When she got to Charlie, her hand slipped, and she dropped the pot into his lap.
“Oh no! I’m so sorry, Mr. Charlie!” Polly turned bright red. But Charlie’s mind was not on tea.
This was it! This was how he could meet her. He was going to spill his coffee on her and then apologize. She would think he was a gentleman, and buy him new coffee. It was a foolproof plan.
Charlie had followed the girl enough to know where she lived and that she went everyday to the cathedral to work. At least, he assumed that’s what she did, since he saw her go into the cathedral on his way to work, and he often saw her come out on his way home. Stopping her on the way there would be the perfect time to implement his plan.
Perhaps it was because he feared becoming an obsessive stalker, or perhaps he just had to go to his own job, but there were some things that Charlie missed when he watched her routine. He did not see that some days she ventured into the darker alleys to visit somebody.
The painted man treated her to stories of his successes, as he hunted both man and beast. Any being who had ever crossed him, according to the stories, ended up with something of theirs in the painted man’s sea chest. He never said where he got the chest, but he filled it with his all treasures. Teeth of beasts he had slaughtered, trophies of men he had broken. His trophies had been their trophies, and as he proved his dominance, he seized their symbols of achievement.
Rebekah was enamored with his stories. Her life seemed full of people who didn’t know what they wanted or what their purpose was, but here was a man who never questioned himself. The confidence, the success he demonstrated was attractive. And his willingness to share with her made her heart even more vulnerable before his presence. She could not control its beating as she sat at his feet, listening to his stories. The manner in which he told them, the way his tattoos danced over his muscles while he talked, the look in his eyes that seemed more alive than any other person she had ever seen. Rebekah’s heart pounded within her while she listened.
What was this feeling? It felt good; it was exciting. She wanted to feel it more, but she was also wary of it. How could she let herself become dependent on a feeling caused by someone else? No, she mustn’t. She mustn’t let anybody into her life. People could not be trusted, even those who made you feel all tingly inside.
But then he would tower over her, and his musky breath would whisper over her neck and tingle down her back. And she felt powerless in his presence.