posted on Aug, 7 2004 @ 10:54 PM
Chapter 17 Snake Pit
Today, I open shop as I always do, except a sense of impending doom is nagging me like a dysthymic harridan. The chimes from the old grandfather
clock sound as I enter the door. I walk quickly to the alarm system and disarm it. I raise the blinds in the front window and pull the chain on the
"open" sign. I walk to the back room, grab my time card from its slot next to the door and walk quickly to the time clock before it clicks over to
the next minute. I make it by only a few seconds. I don't know why the old man keeps the time cards so far from the clock. I guess he's afraid
some one will pull a fast one on him if the rack is not two feet from his desk. I mean it's not like we have that many employees. There's only me,
the weekend girl and the clean-up lady who comes in each night.
It's an interesting world, the pawn business. I've been in it for five years and everyday it seems, someone comes in with family treasures to trade
for a few measly bucks and it's a rare sight to ever see one return to claim the merchandise. We keep good records and the detective, Silas, comes
in each week to check our inventory against his list of stolen items. Sometimes he gets a hit, but mostly the items are just pawned by some desperate
soul who wants to take a few bucks to the casino. Sad really, you only get maybe ten percent of the value of anything, usually a lot less. It's a
lucrative business. I hate it. I hate myself.
A lady came in yesterday with a diamond ring--an engagement ring. Was it hers? I don't know. I just fill out the paperwork, pay out the cash, tag
the merchandise and take it to the vault. She was sweaty and nervous, but she had her ID and signed all the waivers. Who am I to care.
But I do care. Every night I go home haunted by these lives, the stories that can be implied from the items pawned and the faces and mannerisms of
the people who darken our doors. I get home, remove my pistol from my belt, grab a beer and sit down just as the news comes on. I can't help but be
riveted by every news item that mentions a burglary or an armed robbery. It's rare, you know, but sometimes they mention the Rolex watch or the tool
chest I paid out on that very day. I feel dirty. I feel sick.
It's like a dark cloud following me everywhere. I feel like Satan. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I see Satan. And I hear his laugh--that
stupid maniacal laugh you hear in those old Ed Wood movies. I hear it and it scares me silly. I look around everywhere--around my apartment or the
shop, but no one's there. It happens on the trolley. It happens at the movies. I just don't know who to tell. I know I'm not crazy. In fact, of
all the people I know, I'm the only one who's really sane. Only I know the things I know. Only I can hear their voices.
They tell me things that that no one else could know. They often go for days just commenting on my every move. Sometimes they criticize me and I get
mad, but I need them because they tell me what I have to do to keep the fabric of time and space intact. And that's my real job, you know. It's
not the pawn shop. That only pays my expenses.
I wish I knew why they picked me. I never used to even know what the time-space continuum is. I didn't even care. To me, time was always just the
time of day, the chimes from the grandfather clock, the egg timer, the time clock, my Omega Seamaster--the watch for those with the ocean at heart.
Time was important, but it wasn't life and death. It didn't depend on me. The universe didn't depend on me.
I've only seen them once. They came to me early one morning, standing at the end of my bed. I could see and hear, but I couldn't move or speak.
They stood there in their flowing robes, their golden flowing hair and speaking to me in those deep voices which seemed to come from
everywhere--beautiful voices, so clear, so strong, so perfect. It's like music, even when it scares me senseless, even when it makes me angry. I
love them and I hate them. They ruined my life and they're saving mankind. Why did it have to be me?
I can't sleep. I haven't slept for days. I watch TV. I pace. I clean my weapon--my stainless Ruger P-89DC with the Hogue Coco bolo grips and the
Trijicon sights--and I listen to the voices. It's a full time job. I don't think I can hold up much longer. The strain is just too much. Why do
they expect so much of me? I wasn't even smart until they came here. Now, I know more than I ever wanted. I didn't want to be the little boy with
his finger in the cosmic dike. I'm a barber's son and I could have been a barber, if I didn't have these duties. If I didn't have the voices.
It's getting late. I have to close up shop and head home. I have a mission tonight. I have to save the world once again. I got my orders this
afternoon, while I was eating my lunch. It's not that big a deal. It should only take a few hours and I'll walk you through it. You'll only have
to watch and listen. You won't have to get your hands dirty. You won't have to bathe in the blood. You'll only have to hear the screams. I'm
used to it. I've done it dozens of times before. It comes so naturally now. It never makes me sick anymore. It's for the best. It saves the
world--for me, for you. It"s for the best. You'll see.
I keep up with my duties during the day. It only takes me a few minutes to close the shop. I"m smart now. I have the routine down pat. I could do
it in my sleep, if I ever slept anymore. I think of Alan and Jase. I think about how they always think they're smarter than me. They laugh because
I have more important things on my mind. They wonder why the football games aren't important to me anymore. They wonder why I don't hang out at
Garcia's anymore. They wonder now, but they won't wonder after tonight. They won't do anything after tonight, but it's for the best. It will
keep the fabric of space and time intact. You'll be safe. You don't have to worry. I've got it all worked out.
I'm glad you're here. I like you. You make me feel warm. I only wish I could see you. You must look as good as you make me feel. I'm glad
you're on my side. I really needed someone to confide in. You're my only real friend. I love you. Follow me. I have to lock up now. Let's go!
The alarm's set. We have work to do. Time and space, you know.
Wait! Here come those two men. They've been following me for weeks. Okay. Don't panic. We'll just lock the door and cross the street
nonchalantly and head over to the deli. We'll get some sliced ham and Swiss cheese and some bread. I hope the special is onion bread today. It's
so good when it's fresh out of the oven. I probably should have gotten it this morning. It's okay. We'll just duck in there to check these two
out. Maybe they aren't following us, after all. We'll see.
I lock the door and turn to cross the street and they're in my face. I don't like people in my face. I take a step back. I calm myself.
Everything is okay.
"Hi! I'm sorry. I just closed the shop. I hope it's not too important. I'd reopen, but the alarm system doesn't allow it. The boss you
know." I'm sweating.
"Are you Stan Marx," the tall one asked.
"Yes. I'm Stanford Darwin Marx, III. What can I do for you?" My hands are sweating.
"I'm Detective Bennett. This is my associate, Dr. Burton. We need to ask you some questions."
I smile. I extend my hand and shake Bennett's hand and then Burton's. I've seen Bennett before, but Burton is new. A white van pulls up across
the street. Two men in hospital scrubs get out and start moving toward us. They're big. They're standing behind me before I can react. I'm
trapped. The voices will help me out of this. They always do. They always have. Dr. Burton addresses me in a patronizing voice. He makes me
"Stan, I'm William Burton, MD. I'm with the DA's office. These gentlemen behind you are going to take you to the Public Hospital. Your friends
have been concerned about your behavior. We want to help you. You'll be well taken care of. We want you to come peacefully. It's for the
A police car pulls up across the street. Two uniforms get out. They're big and they're armed. I'm out-numbered. I have no choice. I have to
go with them. The voices will help me. Everything will be fine. It always is.
They put me in a pit of snakes
To make me pay for past mistakes
And when I told them what I'd done
They put me in the broiling sun
To see if I would then come clean
About the things that I had seen.
And as I lay with burning brow
Thinking of the where and how
Of things that are and things that were
My thoughts began to fade and blur.
And then they beat me with a whip
Until the blood began to drip
Upon the ground and glisten there
And then they gave me chains to wear.
But, then the angels came to sing
About the peace that they would bring
If only I would kiss the ring
Upon the finger of the King.
[edit on 2005/7/8 by GradyPhilpott]