previous: To Worship ch6
With a massive bruise on my face, I was allowed to ride with my husband to the nearest hospital. One of the paramedics offered me some ice, but their focus was on getting Josh stabilized.
I could see his vitals were very weak, but he was breathing on his own. As long as there were signs of life the EMTs would continue to fight for him. After all, they had over an hour before arriving at a hospital. (Josh could not be declared dead until he was examined by the ER staff.)
The trip was a long one, to allow Josh was taken to a military hospital where they’d have access to his medical records. We were placed in the same room, but Tomas and Christina were forced to wait outside the ER.
The doctor seemed to be in a hurry, after minimal examination (and knowledge of my husband’s end-stage cancer) the elderly man and his team of residents wanted to declare my husband brain dead. The lead doctor was about to put in the order, to start the paperwork when Josh reached for the oxygen mask, all on his own.
There were audible gasps all around. A few of the residents asked what to do; restrain the patient, force the mask back on? The doctor checked my husband’s vitals, placing his hand upon Josh’s wrist. “Sir?” The doctor glanced at his paperwork. “Joshua Miner.” He hadn’t even bothered to learn my husband’s name.
Josh took in soft breath as he turned his head. Eyes closed, he parted his lips, uttering a single word. “Carolina.”
Since the doctor looked genuinely confused, I stepped up. “That’s me. I’m his wife.” I was still holding an icepack to my head but I felt recovered enough to abandon it in favor of taking a seat by my husband’s side.
The medical team made space. One kindhearted resident even brought over a chair so I could sit at Josh’s level. “We’ll give you some alone time. A nurse will be back when we have news on the status of his admission.”
“Thank you,” I said, grateful for the renewed privacy. I caressed my husband’s face with long gentle strokes
The door closed with a noticeable click; it was only then Josh open his eyes. “Carolina, you there?” His once blue eyes were milky, leaving me to believe he’d gone completely blind.
It was all I could do not to cry. “I’m here, babe. I’m right here.” I wanted to hold him; to rock him in my arms like a child. I wanted to be the one to save him, but I wasn’t the one he needed. “Tomas is waiting with Christina. He’s probably talking to the doctor, and should be in soon.” I had no idea if that last part was even true.
Josh shook his head, as he desperately waved his free hand. “I need you.”
“Ok.” Was he in search of me? Or simply in search of comfort? In truth, it didn’t matter. “I’m here.” I gripped his hand, cupping it between my own. He was ice cold. With tears in my eyes, I placed his fingers to my chest allowing him to feel the warmth of my body.
Josh blinked his eyes, staring up at the ceiling. “I could always count on you.” He went silent for what felt like an abnormally long time.
“Talk to me, baby. You can tell me anything.” I just wanted to hear his voice.
What he said next would chill me to the core. “I saw you.”
“You saw me?”
“In the field, in the dream; our dream.” The words fell from his lips like drips from a water faucet; one by one with no rhyme or reason.
“Our dream?” I asked with a giggle. The very idea was both thrilling and frightening but not entirely a surprise. I always figured we were connected on a deeply spiritual level.
“I need you to take me back there.”
“I don’t know how.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. You’ve always known how.”
“Um, ok.” I seriously didn’t understand. Josh was sick, was this his mind going? Or was it just that easy? “Do you need to sleep?”
“I can’t,” he said in a nervous whisper. It was as if he already knew that the rest of his statement would sound completely insane. “If I sleep alone, she’ll come for my soul.”
“Suzanne? You can’t really believe that,” I said with a forced laugh. I didn’t want it to be true; Suzanne was already terrifyingly powerful, the idea that she was coming for my husband’s soul: that was a little too much for me to handle.
“She’ll claim me the way she claimed my mother.”
“Because your mother sold you to her.” That made a slight amount of sense; my husband’s mother sold him for drugs and now the dead drug dealer is haunting him. Yup, makes total sense. “What can I do to save you?”
“Stay by my side.” Josh motioned for me to rest my head on his shoulder.
“I can do that.” I made myself comfortable, resting my upper body in his bed. since it was a hospital bed there wasn’t a lot of room. still, I was able to be close enough to him for skin to skin contact. I kissed his cheek, the taste of his sweaty unshaved face was like a cool ocean; calm, peaceful
With all the strength left in my broken heart I whispered in his ear. “I love you.” The words echoed in my mind. Love; the emotion was so deep and profound. ‘Sleep, my soldier, my angel, my love.’ I closed my eyes, knowing that we were in a hospital emergency room I assumed someone would wake me in the event of an actual medical emergency. (This seemed like as good of a place as any to wage war against the forces of evil in a battle for my husband’s immortal soul.)
I had hoped to awaken back in Aunt Grace’s cemetery surrounded by the animal sculptures but that was not to be. Instead, my mind had taken me to a trashed desolate cabin, the kind of place you’d see off the side of the road. This was no one’s home only a means of shelter for vagrants, vagabonds and drug addicts looking for a quiet place to smoke or shoot up.
The night felt warm. All around me I could hear moaning; the sounds of death, pain, and intense sexual pleasure. It was like the thrift store orgy but so much worse. This was not a place of love, and acceptance. No, on the contrary, these people (creatures stripped of their humanity) existed only for sin.
Body after body; male, female, young and old, they were all engaging in sex while shooting up drugs. Most of the figures were hidden in the shadows but one lay on display like an exhibit in a museum. The body was male, muscular and strong. His pale skin was bathed in the moonlight, drawing attention to the many white power tattoos. From where I stood, I could see various swastikas on his chest, neck and shoulders, burning crosses on his hips. There was even a Nazi eagle over his pelvis, positioned as if it was perched on his cock.
“Josh?” I touched my hand to his face. His eyes were covered with duct tape and there was a ball gag in his mouth. “Let me help you.” I searched his arms and legs but to my surprise he wasn’t restrained. To my shock and horror, this version of my husband chose to be there of his own free will.
A shiver went down my spine as I heard footsteps behind me. “If it makes you feel any better, Hun,” said a crackly female voice, “No one is here of their own free will.” The biker ghost took a seat at Josh’s side. “Let’s see, where’s a good spot?” She examined Josh’s tattooed arms in the moonlight revealing trac marks, and blown out veins among racial slurs and profanity.
Josh purred like a cat, leaning towards her touch. “Mama,” the sound of his voice was deep, scratchy, like something out of a zombie movie.
“Who’s my good boy?” She paced two fingers in Josh’s mouth and slipped in a single pill. “You are, my baby. You are.”
“Thank you, Mama.” His chapped, bleeding lips formed a smile.
She scooted down to his legs. “Here’s a good vein.” Suzanne placed a leather belt around his thigh pulling it tight.
The tattooed gimp started to masturbate, working his shaft without lube. His muscle tightened, as he arched his back allowing his body to surrender to the pleasure.
Suzanne took the opportunity to inject his leg with the contents of a large, dirty syringe. “Got to keep you big and strong.” She chuckled as she casually yanked out the needle letting the blood run down Josh’s thigh. “Only the best for my boy.” She kissed his leg sucking the blood from his open wound. Josh spread his legs as he climaxed all over his stomach. He turned his head, gasping for air as the drugs extended the length and intensity of the orgasm.
Suzanne gave his ball sack a firm squeeze, causing Josh to ejaculate one last time. “This is the way things should have been.” She crawled on top of him, until her mouth was over his. “If he stayed with me, I would have continued to pimp him out to anyone who wanted to fuck his hot, sexy, junkie ass. He would have made me so much money. And when he was too old for that he could have just been mine.”
I assumed she would have kissed him but instead she sat on his lap, wrapping her legs around him like a python.
“His body would be sick, dying, but he would be mine.” As Suzanne stroked her fingers through his cum, her hand glowed blue with odd paranormal power. “Isn’t that right, my love?” she cupped his cheeks, like a loving mother.
That was when I noticed, the closer she came to his face the more she started to transform into smoke. I watched as the tattooed neo-Nazi gimp version of my husband took a final breath, inhaling Suzanne’s spirit into his wretched form. Soon she vanished, and only then did he have a seizure.
Now it was my turn to kneel by his side. This vision of Josh was younger, maybe in his thirties. His hair had been shaved but I could see from his eyebrows, evidence of the dark blond hair I fell in love with.
I kissed his forehead, right on his crudely drawn eyebrow tattoo. I couldn’t help but laugh. The word written above his scar-covered brow simply read, ‘bitch.’ Joshua Miner was a lot of things; husband, father, soldier, son but he was no one’s bitch.
I looked around, for inspiration; a needle, a piece of glass. No, none of those felt right. Instead, I took the belt off his leg, and put it over his neck, pinning him down. There was no way I could smother him or even choke him in a way that would give him what he craved. So, I just handed it to him. The bitch put it on all by himself, pulling the strap nice and tight around his neck. He was instantly hard again; his body begging for my touch.
I kissed his lips, the same mouth that just took in his wicked abuser. “I guess in this version of reality you never knew me.” I was about to reach for the tape covering his eyes, when I suddenly woke up.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Miner,” said a female nurse. She was a new person, so I assumed enough time had passed that the shifts changed. “We’re moving your husband to a room in the ICU.”
“Oh, ok.” I stood up and looked towards the door. “Have you seen the people I came here with?”
“Oh, you mean the male nurse? I think he went to check on your daughter.”
“Check on my daughter?” I asked. I’d assumed they were together, in the waiting room or perhaps the van.
“The pregnant woman, that’s your daughter, right?”
“Yes,” I replied, assuming she was simply trying to avoid being awkward. “Is she still in the waiting room or did she leave the hospital to check on my husband’s service dog?”
The nurse’s smile fell. “Your daughter is in the hospital, she’s been admitted.” The nurse nervously pursed her lips. “I can’t legally discuss another person’s medical status, but I’ll have the doctor come speak to you.”
“Sure, thanks.” My brain told me to get up, go after her. Just as I was about to, I felt Josh’s hand. His eyes were closed, but he was still there. And so was Suzanne. I knew I needed to stay with my husband.
I rode with Josh to the ICU, where I attempted to fall asleep on his chest. If there was news about Christina someone would have told me. I needed to believe that. Just as I felt a panic attack building in my chest, I could feel Josh’s arm on my back. He was holding me close. It was enough comfort to allow me to close my eyes.
I awoke to the sound of motorcycles. I was in a field of wheat, wearing the shredded remains of a typical wedding dress. It was not my wedding dress since I got married in a pale-yellow prom dress that I bought from the local Goodwill. We never had a lot of money; it was never about that. “Josh?” He was my first love, my everything. “Where are you?”
Standing up, I could see above the crops, to what looked like the football field of my high school. Walking closer I could see eighteen-year-old Josh sitting at the top of the bleachers smoking a cigarette. I knew what day this was, and the role I had to play. Josh had been sick from school but since it was senior year no one really cared. “Hey!” I shouted up. “Are you jerking off?”
Josh laughed. “Just keeping it warm for you.”
I made my way up to him, taking a seat by his side. “I thought you were staying home sick today?” It wasn’t uncommon for Josh’s father to allow him to stay home when he was suffering from panic attacks. Had he been born in a different era his condition would have been diagnosed as childhood PTSD. Unfortunately, in our time he was just thought of as the quiet kid.
“I was sick; sick of this school.” Josh laughed as he offered me his cigarette.
I took it in my mouth, licking my tongue around the shaft to steal the taste of Josh’s saliva. “Fuck, that’s good.”
“You’re such a slut,” Josh said with a chuckle. He knew I was a virgin, maybe that was why it was so sexy to hear him say it.
“Let me show you just how much of a slut I can be.” I was ready to give him a sloppy wet hand job, but that wasn’t what he wanted. Today would be the day of my first ever blowjob. There was just enough room for me to kneel in front of him. I opened his belt and lowered his zipper.
“Let me help you.” He gripped my head, sliding his cock down my throat. He looked down at me, maintaining eye contact with his sky-blue gaze. But it was up to me just how far I wanted to go.
I moved my head back and forth, up and down attempting to swallow him whole.
Josh was looking down the entire time, as if watching me take a test. “Oh, come on, you can do better than that.” I’d never noticed his look of anger until he grabbed me by my hair. “You’re not even trying.”
I could feel the tears in my eyes. I desperately needed to stop for air.
“Am I hurting you?”
I nodded my head, too scared to speak.
Josh moaned. “Your damn right, I am.” His stomach tightened; I knew he was about to cum, but I also knew he wasn’t going to give me any warning.
His warm seed filled my throat, trickling down my lips. I struggled to breathe, barely able to take in air as he held my face to his crotch. I could taste the sweat of his balls as he climaxed over and over. I took it all in, letting him fuck my face until he was through with me.
Josh casually pushed me to the side. My body fell backward, weak with an intense state of ecstasy. Somehow my panties were wet, I’d been climaxing all on my own. Was it from the pain? No, I never got off on that particular kink. Perhaps it was the act of being dominated, and humiliated by the school’s sexy bad boy? No, the answer was clear; what turned me on more than anything was the idea of giving pleasure to another human being.
“Woah,” I said with a giggle. Thankfully I caught myself before I could fall down the bleachers like a slinky.
Josh grabbed my arm, allowing me to keep my balance. “Marry me.”
“What?” I laughed even harder. “You did not just say that.”
Josh looked at me with his bright blue eyes as he took a long drag from his cigarette. “You think your parents will be upset at you?”
“Well yeah, kind of.” I would have to leave home, taking up small jobs instead of college. I wasn’t a great student, but I had admission to a local school. “We’re not even graduated yet.”
“We’ll be out of this shithole soon enough,” he said pulling me on to his lap. “I got plans; once I walk across the stage to get my diploma, I’m headed into the army.”
“The army?” Those words cut straight to my soul. He would go to basic training and maybe even get stationed someplace halfway around the world. I couldn’t picture a life without him.
Josh touched his finger to my cheek, wiping away a single tear. “You and me, we’ve been going steady since we were kids.”
Going steady? “Not really,” I said, unable to keep from smiling. The touch of his hand was all it took to melt my heart. “I met you freshman year, remember?”
“Yeah, that was a whole three years ago. We were just kids. Now we’re all grown up about to start our adult lives. I want you by my side. So, what do you say? Will you marry me?”
He pulled me close moving my hand under his shirt. I could feel his sweaty abs, and strong chest. Near his heart was a long chain necklace. “You get your dog tags before Bootcamp?” I teased my fingertips along the warm metal, down to the charm. It wasn’t dog tags.
“My daddy’s ring.” Josh moved the ring from under his shirt, revealing a sterling silver band.
“If you don’t want it, I’ll just take it with me.”
“It won’t fit me.”
“I think it will.”
The moment was just as I remembered it; Josh took off the necklace, placing it around my neck. And then we kissed. As our lips met, the scene started to crumble. This memory had been made of sand. I fell to the ground, landing hard on my shoulder.
I had never felt so alone. Was it even possible to cry in a dream?
“You sacrificed everything for him,” said a mocking voice echoing over the wind. It was my mother’s voice. She hated my husband so much she disowned me.
“You’re wrong.” I wanted to scream at the clouds, but all I could muster was a weak cry. “I sacrificed nothing.”
And look where it got me; a career as a stay-at-home wife and mother with a mentally ill husband and no education beyond a high school diploma.
Maybe the voice was right.
I should have left Josh years ago, I could have taken Christina, moved to California, and started over. Maybe I would have found a better man, someone who wouldn’t have cut contact with my daughter for her sexuality, someone who wouldn’t have worked himself to death.
But that wouldn’t have been Josh. I fell in love with my husband’s flaws; the star athlete, bad boy from the wrong side of town. He was the white trash son of a trucker and a whore with the mind of a poet and the heart of an angel.
A shadow covered me as a familiar man placed a hand upon my shoulder. “You never could turn your back on him.”
“Tomas?” I turned to see the male nurse but he looked different. His hair was sky blue, which looked truly angelic against his sun-kissed skin. He wore a pair of sunglasses the color of sunlight, faux leather riding gloves the color of rain and not much else. His body was adorned with symbols written in metallic paint. Something about the look felt calming, soothing, and worthy of my trust.
“Take my hand.”
While I was more than grateful for his presence, one question lingered. “Where are you?”
“You already know the answer.” Despite the calmness of his face, Tomas’ tone revealed a hint of fear.
“Christina is in labor.”
He nodded. “Her unborn child needs a soul, but Suzanne will not surrender her claim without a fight.”
“How do we find Josh?”
“Again, you already know the answer.” He turned towards the unpaved road. “Look to the path.”
There was a distinct tire track carved in the dry sandy dirt. I stood up to take a closer look. The track was a deep gauge, revealing a fresh layer of moist fertile soil. Out of the corner of my eye I started to see colors. The path was filled with seeds, which grew into sprouts and then flowers. I followed the path, my mind and heart in a hypnotic state of peace.
I had no idea how far I had walked until Tomas pulled up next to me, riding a motorcycle made of solid gold. “Hop on, let me give you a lift.”
“Sure, why not,” I said with a laugh. I got on the back, with my arms around Tom’s waist.
As we followed the tire track, the world started to become greener. Waves of crystal-clear water arose from the center of the path, creating a blanket of green grass. The world was dotted with flowers of all sizes and colors. Oddly the flowers were not growing from the ground but rather from vines. These vines, coated in flowers like a candy rope coated in sugar, they seemed so familiar. Did they represent my husband, our connection? That would have been too simple. The real answer was something that didn’t involve me, something I just watched and enjoyed. “Josh was sexually fluid.”
“Wow, I see you have a rudimentary understanding of symbolism,” Tomas replied mocking me sarcastically while keeping his eyes on the road.
“You’re real funny.” It all made sense. Human Sexuality was, by definition, the practice of achieving love and acceptance. This was Josh’s happy place. Tomas and I rode in silence, mesmerized by the field of wonder. I couldn’t help but notice the particular turn of the path. We were headed in a familiar direction. “Tomas?”
“Yeah?” he replied in a cool nonchalant tone.
“Where exactly are where are we going?”
“To lay claim to Joshua’s immortal soul.”
“You make it sound easy,” I said with a forced chuckle. Nothing about this was going to be easy. I knew where we were headed; an unnamed tavern turned biker bar. It was in the middle of nowhere, a few miles off the highway. I’d never been to the place, but growing up I’d heard my parents refer to it as the gates of hell. It was a den of sin; lust, greed, with plenty of drugs, and murder. The kind of place a demon like Suzanne would call home.
next: To Worship ch8
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