Saturday, December 16, 2006

Connected: Chapter 2

Daniel Porter had been blind. It was a simple fact and one that was never taken lightly by Mrs. Porter, Daniel’s mother. Mrs. Porter had made the rounds of the neighborhood to visit mothers of boys that had picked on Daniel.
“They jus’ don’t understand you Daniel,” said Mrs. Porter. She always cooked when she talked to Daniel.
But time marched on and the day came when Mrs. Porter passed on to the next life. Her son had grown into a man that everyone in their neighborhood in Chicago had known. Everyone knew if they had a problem, go see Mr. Porter on Sticks Road, Number 25. Being blind had meant that other talents had emanated inside him. As people would say, he had a real knack for helping them down the right path.
At the age of fifty-four Daniel was able to move freely in the community and had his assistant Jennings oversee his business. Daniel Porter was a multimillionaire and no one in the world knew but Jennings. They worked day in and day out. Seeing people, scheduling meetings with the most prominent and powerful people in the world, and all completely free from any danger that someone would recognize the aging African-American man from Chicago.
A rainstorm had set in early one November night and preparations had been made for a visitor Porter had told Jennings about earlier in the day. At six o’clock the doorbell rang and Jennings answered it. A man with short-cropped hair and a thin scar beneath his right eye stood in the doorway with a military bag in his hands.
“Come in, Mr. Porter has been expecting you,” Jennings said.
The man entered and was soaking wet. Jennings reached behind the door and handed him a warm towel that had been prepared for the visitor. He took it and began to dry off his head, face, and neck. His waterlogged army jacket was immediately taken from him by Jennings. The assistant pointed at a doorway and the man entered.
“How ya’ doing there sunshine?” Porter said. His black shades were on despite the rain. “I know you don’t talk much so this should be a real hoot. All I need to do is have you set there and give me your hand,” Porter said. He pointed to a chair directly across from his.
The man sat down and noticed the small table between them had the newspaper opened to the section about the trial going on in Chicago about the Evolutionary Process and the dying planet they called home.
“Sad isn’t it? We only come together when things are practically falling apart,” Porter said. He shook his head in disgust. “Makes you wonder if we should even be given another chance don’t it?”
The man did not speak. He sat and looked at Porter. The elder man smiled and removed his shades. His eyes were opened and completely opaque.
“My momma said they were once the most beautiful brown she’d ever seen. Can’t say I believe her, never seen them myself. But you, you have eyes that I can see. Deep blue, like the ones that came before you, the other warriors of your line, I guess you could call them,” Porter said. He laughed.
The man still did not speak.
“I know you can talk and I know that you don’t want to. But in this place, my home, you don’t have to worry about that because I can still hear you in here,” Porter said. He tapped his forehead with a gnarled knuckle.
I can hear what you’re thinking and know what you’re gonna say before you even say it son, the man heard Porter’s voice say in his head. Don’t be alarmed, I know you’re scared and just want to go home, but now’s not the time to be scared. We all need you, and you know what I mean by that, the voice said. The man knit his eyebrows together and sighed deeply. He nodded to Porter.
“Let’s begin then,” said Porter. He nodded to Jennings, who closed the double doors behind him and walked down the hallway.
Both men waited until the assistant’s footsteps could no longer be heard on the hard wood floor. The man held out his hand to Porter and waited for the old man to take it in his gnarled hands. Silence filled the room. Then Porter grabbed the man’s hand in both of his and looked him directly in the eyes. Gone were Porter’s opaque irises. What the man saw made huge drops of perspiration drop from his forehead. Porter’s eyes were as blue as the man’s were and they had an unearthly glow to them.
“It’s okay Dwight, you’ll be safe. I promise,” Porter said.
Dwight’s vision blurred and he felt as if he had fallen face first into the soft carpet of Porter’s home. The reality was he was sitting up and holding onto the black sage’s hand and not breathing. All time had stopped around the two.
Porter looked up and was thrown backwards in his seat. The shockwave that had been released made Dwight suck in air. His eyes stung and he gasped for the breath that had been wrung from his lungs. Once his breathing was back to normal he moved towards Porter. The older man lay flat on his back, convulsing. Dwight tried to reach for him and Porter yelled at Dwight to stay away from him for a moment longer.
Porter stopped shaking and his eyes went from blue to brown to opaque in no time at all. Dwight rubbed his eyes to make sure he had seen the eye color change. Porter laughed heartily.
“Dwight Anders is your name. And you came here because Ms. Sharposhnikadinov sent you after she saw what happened to your family in Vegas. That’s right isn’t it?” said Porter.
Jennings came back into the room holding Dwight’s bag and jacket.
“Jennings, take Mr. Dwight Anders here upstairs and show him his room. Run a bath for him as well,” Porter said.
“Yes sir, as you wish,” said Jennings.
“A shower, a nice hot shower,” Dwight said.
Both men looked at him with eyes opened wide. They looked at each other slowly and then Porter Laughed. Jennings cracked a smile.
“Hot damn, boy, you can talk, what made do it now?” said Porter.
“I don’t like baths, but I love showers and it’s been a while,” said Dwight.
“Bright and early tomorrow morning Dwight,” Porter said. He plopped down onto his seat again.
Dwight looked at the rain pouring down in large chunks of hail and he laughed.
“Sure Mr. Porter, bright and early tomorrow morning.
Jennings showed Dwight the way up to his room and closed the door once Dwight was inside comfortably. He walked back to the living room and sat across the table from his employer and his friend.
“He good upstairs?” said Porter.
“Yes sir, he’s good. Why have him do this though, and why now?” said Jennings. He cracked his knuckles.
Porter stood up and walked over to a large oak cabinet that was between two of his bookcases. He removed a silver key in the shape of a heart from about his neck and opened the cabinet door. He then used the key again to open a small obsidian case inside the cabinet. Jennings stood beside his friend and looked on as Porter opened the case.
“Is that what I think it is?” said Jennings. His eyes moved over the pearl handle of the .45 caliber pistol that lay on a crimson pillow.
Porter’s hands easily found the handle and lifted the gun to Jennings.
“You see the scrollwork on the barrel? That was custom made for that particular job. The man who shot Dwight’s family knew what he was doing and knew exactly whom he would kill. What he didn’t know was that I’d get the gun in the end and that I’d help Mr. Anders find him,” Porter said.
Jennings checked the slide action and the clip. There was one bullet left in the clip. Jennings was about to speak when Porter did.
“Yeah Mike, one bullet, and you know who it’s for,” said Porter. He smiled but did not laugh.
Dwight stepped out of the shower and stood in front of the mirror in the small bathroom. He wiped the condensation from the mirror and looked at his reflection. He then wiped away the rest of the condensation to see the upper half of his body. He traced the scar that slashed across his torso, a grim reminder of what had happened to him in Las Vegas. He then looked at the thick black tattoo of the broken and jagged heart that was positioned exactly over his own heart. He rubbed it and began to cry. His body shook with his crying and he remained in front of the mirror for several minutes.
He wrapped a towel about him and fell asleep on the bed. He did not dream.


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