UC Poika

    “Who are you smiling at?” Harmon Leasant asked his fiancee Suzan.

    “Nobody,” she said and then realized she had automatically smiled when someone made eye contact with her, so she added, “I- I don’t know.”

    “We’re here to buy a new seat for the toilet stool and not for you to flirt with every guy in the mall, for heaven’s sake.”

    “Flirt!” she thought aloud. The idea had never even occurred to her before he said that word.

    “Don’t play dumb with me,” he said, “Where do you know him from anyway?”

    “I don’t.”

    “That’s even worse. What kind of a woman are you to be trying to pick up a total stranger right in front of my nose. Jesus! You should be glad I am such a laid back individual. The right sort of guy would belt you one right here in front of God and country. I feel like it, you know. But I would never do such a thing and you know that too, so let’s just forget about it for now. But you just wait until we get you home, we’ll deal with it then.”

    She started to protest.

    “Okay?” he snapped.

    She followed him unable to keep her eyes from turning red with just the beginnings of involuntary teardrops.

    “And, don’t cry about it,” he said, “Or I’ll leave you behind again. People always assume I am abusing you or something when you do that. Now just knock it off! Why do you always do this to a guy anyway and every time we come to this damned mall.”

    She couldn’t help herself now. Tears came streaming down her face.

    “What did I tell you?” he said.

    She was afraid to look at him and ashamed to have let it happen again.

    “You’ll just have to stand there then. Right here! And, don’t move. I’ll be back in a few minutes, so try not to act like a baby when I get back or else...”

    She bowed her head slightly in an attempt to watch only the floor in front of her as people streamed by her apparently oblivious to her tears and near silent sobs. At first the feet and legs of mall patrons scurried by oblivious also to her precarious position. However too soon there were a pair of girl’s who slowed to a stop and then turned to face her. She couldn’t resist. She slowly raised her eyes, first from the feet to their skirts, then to their blouses and finally to their faces just as they began to giggle.

    “I bet she’s wet herself,” one of the girls said to the other while that girl offered only a superficial comment to affirm that Susan was indeed crying.

    The tears therefore vanished but Susan found her face hot to the touch, she thought , and probably bright red also. She wished the girls would just go away and leave her alone in her misery but they did not. Afraid they would say something she quickly turned her head the other way only to discover more teens had noticed her.

    “Is she going to be okay?” a boy she had seen around before said just as she turned back to the way she had faced before and stared at the floor, bowing her head a little bit more so that she did not even have to see the feet of the girls that had laughed at her before.

    “Susan?” a familiar voice said, “Is that you?”

    She raised her eyes again but this time found herself eye to eye with Mr. Lassic her favorite English teacher and therefore she nodded appreciatively.

    “What’s wrong, Susan?”

    “Nothing,” she replied but, realizing no one that saw her the way she was now would have believed that, she added, “I don’t know,” only to realize that would be misleading if she let it stand. “You don’t want to know,” she warned at last.

    “Yes, but I do, Susan. Are you okay?”

    She didn’t know what to say and so said nothing.

    “Are you hurt?”

    She shook her head to indicate she was not.

    “Did you,” he started to ask and then bravely finished, “Did you go to the bathroom in your...”

    “God no!” she whispered so loud that every snake in Arkansas could have heard her. ‘Is that what they all think—that she had wet herself or worse had a problem with her period or something?’ she thought.

    “Please, Susan,” Mr. Lassic said, “Tell me what the problem is so that I can help you.”

    ‘God, I wish Harm would come to me just so I could up and leave,’ she was thinking even as the first of the shots rang out and the top button of Mr. Lassic’s coat turned a curious red color.

    “What, Susan?” he asked noticing Susan’s reaction, “My coat? What is it, dear?” Then he put his hand up to the red spot where his button used to be and then returning his hand to where he might see it, he suddenly shouted. “My God, Susan! That was a shot. I’m hit!”

    Then realizing Susan was as yet unharmed he yelled at her to get down while reaching toward her with his bloodied hand. But when she drew back away from him because of the horrible sight of it all, he fell, unable to reach her completely and leaving Susan instead to look into the mirrors of the jewelry store that had been behind him.

    Everyone around her in all directions were lying on the floor. She could see them and for a moment she was struck by the familiar image of a tree standing in an open field. However, no more had the odd image invaded her thoughts than she saw nearly half of her head blown away by a single shot. She reached her left hand up to the missing part of her skull in order to ascertain whether that really had been the case just as a red bloody glob hit the mirror ahead of her and stared as bright red blood began to slide down the mirrored surface.

    ‘My God! It was me!’ she was thinking as she slumped to her knees. “Harm is really going to kill me for this,” just before she fell flat on her face there in the mall that fateful day. ‘Harm!’ she thought, ‘Where the hell is Harm anyway?’ Then she began instinctively to wonder how he would manage to turn even being shot by an unknown assailant against her, and how it, like everything else, would turn out to be her fault.

    “Susan,” Mr. Lassic said calmly and clearly, “We have to get out of here immediately. It’s okay. There is nothing we can do for anyone here.”

    She was standing but she could not remember having gotten up. She looked at Mr. Lassic as if she had never seen him before, then down the hall where she presumed Harm had disappeared to. And! There he was! Running towards her yelling her name. She put out her arms to catch his. He did love her. He was not mean because he didn’t love her. It was clear now that he did in fact love her. However, to Susan’s surprise he ran right through her!

    “Come on, Susan,” Mr. Lassic said, “I told you. We have to get out of here. Let’s go now, Susan.”

    She was caught up in the manner of her mentor, so much so that she blindly obeyed his wishes and as he left so did she. She could not remember having traveled from one place to another but there she was in a meadow with Mr. Lassic.

    The trees seemed to form a nearly perfect circle around them in all directions. They were evergreens of some sort, probably jack pine she thought. The grasses of the meadow were not tall and there were many wild flowers there. The purple ones were the most prevalent but there were yellow ones, red ones and many white and blue ones also. Susan herself was dressed in a white gown made almost entirely of lace reminiscent of a wedding dress she had once saw and loved but which Harm had rejected as being gaudy and even silly it was so overdone he said. Her dear sweet Harm, she was unconsciously thinking, where was the only man that had ever loved her, the man who had made a woman of her, as her mere child played to his accomplished maturity.

    “Susan!” Mr. Lassic shouted, “Be careful of the snakes!”

    “Snakes?” she asked and looking down saw a peculiarly colored stick. Picking it up she said to Mr. Lassic, “Isn’t it beautiful? I wonder who has painted it like this.”

    Mr. Lassic shrieked and with a swift back of the hand knocked the object out of her hand. “Snap out of it Susan! It was beautiful, but with snakes the more colorful the more poisonous I should think.”

    “Snake?” she said recovering the object. “It is no snake! It is rather the most beautifully painted stick I have ever seen. Besides even if it was a snake what could it harm us now?”

    ‘O Harm!’ she thought, ‘How I miss him already? How wonderful that he really did love me.’
    At that point the snake curled and bit her on the neck drawing a bit of blood. She put her hand up to the bite and daubed it with her handkerchief.

    “My goodness me,” she said as in a dream, “You were right. It was a snake after all. But you see it has not truly harmed me.”

    ‘My God! My Harm! How I love my Harm.”

    “Harmon Leasant? That piss ant! What did you see in him? He was mean as hell to you.” Mr. Lassic said.

    “No he was not! He loved me!”

    “Yeah. I bet he did. You know I once thought the two of you were well suited. You were so gullible and he is so—so deluded. I thought it just might be eternity before either one of you realized there was something wrong in your relationship.”

    “What do you mean? Harm was helping me become—well perfect, but I seemed to always let him down. I am such a flawed person, surely he was a godsend and not the devil you make him out to be.”

    “Remember the snake.”

    “What is that supposed to mean?”

    “To you it was only a pretty stick. To me it was a deadly snake.”

    “What was a snake doing in a meadow like this?”

    “Some meadow! This pile of rocks and dust!”

    “What kind of trees are those? Do you know, Mr. Lassic?”

    “Cacti of some sort. They are not trees, my dear.”

    “How differently we see everything?”

    Mr. Lassic now became furtive even though pensively considering the plight of the pair. Here he was with an extremely trusting and quite exquisitely beautiful, even sexy young woman, and yet he existed in a barren dessert environment whilst she dwelt in a beautiful meadow fresh from some classic. What was wrong with this picture? How could both places coexist, that is, if they in fact did? But what right had he to alter her preferred view in favor of his own which had already proven to be injurious to her? None. He concluded.

    “Show me your flowers, Susan,” he said at length.

    “Can’t you see them?” she asked surprised even yet.

    “I see something, but I don’t think it is flowers.”

    “They are, my dear, dear, Mr. Lassic.”

    “Please, Susan,” he said, “Call me by my first name.”

    “Sure, Stanley,” she said not knowing it was not his name.

    “Do you mind if I put my arm about your waist, Susan?”

    “What of Harm?”

    “Is he here? Anyway, what good is his world if you are unfit for it?”

    “Unfit?” she asked herself. “Yes that is it, isn’t it? You always did know just the right word, Stanley.”

    He put his hand on the right side of her waist from around behind her while standing on her left.

    She smiled accepting his advance.

    Together they walked away across the meadow and disappeared into the jack pine forest talking of the scenery, the sun, and the perfect weather and never again was either one of them bitten by a snake, nor did either stumble on a rock. To make matters even more perfect, the mall, though long since forgotten by the couple, is said to be the sight where two unknown lovers sit by day and on many an evening amid the markers of the fallen from that fateful day of the shooting at the mall and seem deeply engrossed with each other, chatting endlessly of the beautiful places there love has taken them. The ultimate outcome is perhaps understood best, however, when one realizes that Harmon (Harm) Leasant sits in the nearby sane asylum convinced he is surrounded by a great dessert full to the top with scorpions and snakes, all of a very deadly variety. God bless him as he repeats his last conversation with his beautiful fiancee over and over again always culminating in the words, It is the ending again. And indeed that is where it all started.