Stained Radiance. A Dark Angels Tale
Disclaimer. Be warned. This is a story like no other so people of a nervous disposition look away now. It takes 3 minutes to read. If you scan down to the end it will ruin it for you. its up to you.
You cant pick your childhood. God scatters new babies like a half blind farmer scatters corn in his field. Some land in the middle and have a lush life, others fall nearer the margins and have more of
a struggle, a few land in semi darkness, on stone, under the hedge. Her father was a professional blues musician who played guitar in minor bands clear across America. In the entertainment business for every one that makes it thousands struggle. Imagine sowing a field of corn if only one in a thousand ever made it to harvest, yet so many people dream of being famous. He certainly did.
In those early years he was convinced he would be a new edge in music, acclaimed, feted, a guitar god. A white Hendrix. Gradually year by year the fires of this conviction dimmed then went out.
Now it was just a job. Poor or average pay, long and arduous travel, bad on relationships. Fortunately he was fairly handsome and a smooth, confident talker so a collection of women fell into his life like leaves into a pond. Only success eluded him.
By now though he had a kid, something to make the endless nights in smoky bars and clubs worthwhile
Her mother was a mistake. Good looker but after a few years it had run its course. He only stayed with her for the sake of the kid and they both knew it.
One night he came back early after a two month stint around the great lakes to find her passed out and wasted on the couch with a new boyfriend in tow in a similar condition. His kid locked in
the kitchen with the dog, both of them surviving on dry biscuits ,hot and real thirsty in the late evening heat, twin tongues licking melting ice off the open freezer door. In that image he'd lost it, all the years of empty dreams fused in one moment of madness.
He'd grabbed a car jack lying in the hall and smashed them both, her face and legs, his arms- then a cooling down period out back, away from the moans, to think.
They were so far out of it the assault could have been anyone. The only witness the wide eyed kid.
He had friends in Mexico she didn't know about. He'd have to change the car and being a musician was too much of a risk to take. No matter ,he was a passable mechanic thanks to his pushy dad,
serving a apprenticeship in a local garage before he took up the golden plank for good. Scooping up the five year old he lit out for the border.no curtains twitched. it wasn't that kind of street.
She was quiet in the new car, still pondering why her father had hurt mommy so much. Was that her fault? Why wasn't the dog with them? Her fault again? Time passed in Mexico and a crime and
a puzzle remained unsolved.
Her ninth birthday found her in a trailer park in Detroit with a few young friends who lived in vans nearby. Pretty, with a likable personality she made friends fast. She had to, moved around a lot.
Missing the homeland he'd asked for word and the word coming back was good. Wheelchair bound partner dead from a drug induced heart attack ,boyfriend, a junkie, out the picture. Cops busy
elsewhere. So he'd come back to the USA got a job in a motor shop ,stuck fast. And was grabbed not by the cops but by the school board concerned that this quiet young girl who spoke as
much Spanish as English had missed so much schooling. She had a different surname of course but overall she was a happy child though prone to occasional deep mood swings. By this age she was asserting her own personality, demanding the right to settle and get an education, sounding more like her mother every day.
Tired of the hassle, tired of fixing cars, missing the road and the women on it this good father came up with a solution and she was packed off to her grandmother in St Louis in order to go to school without awkward questions coming his way. She wasn't that sad. All she'd known in her short life was travel and instability. Two years of bliss followed and she thrived on the attention.
He wouldn't allow her to go to the old ladies funeral, nor into care. Kin looks after kin. So it was off to his brother in Kansas who was now comparatively wealthy, two kids of his own, and could afford another mouth at the table. To get over the loss and the up and coming intended fatherly separation he'd bought her a cheap guitar. She could already pick out tunes by ear, long years in countless
rooms with his guitar often the sole entertainment, her education.
So that was her settled and he was off again, convincing himself that he had to keep moving to avoid questions from the authorities. They both knew the truth. He liked running, suited his nature.
She'd make friends he told her. She was a survivor. Like him.
So began her long ordeal which she later referred to jokingly as the wonder years.(as in I wonder what's gonna show up in my bed next)
As fast as it appeared the sun went out of her life like a candle being pinched and it was back to growing in the shade again for a spell.
Her uncle was not a deliberately cruel man but his type of work moulded character, smothered compassion. Slaughterhouse folk are a breed apart. When you take life's for a living a mental change occurs not always obvious to the outsider, and she was made to feel that way very quickly. The whole family had a callous, physical sense of humour which she soon learned had its creative peak in the two boys. Especially the younger one who resented her intensely for reasons she could never work out. She just knew she was engaged in a war, one she had to win for her own sanity.
Judy was right in the Wizard of Oz. This wasn't Kansas. At eleven years old shed been taken by her father and dumped straight into in hell.
Both boys, fifteen and ten, were powerfully built and strong for their age. The oldest already helping out in the killing sheds, power washing the floor and getting rid of damaged scraps.
When they saw how much she freaked out when they left a burst cows tongue under her pillow they were intrigued and delighted by easy fun in otherwise hard life's.
Even a sound beating from their father, angry that blood stained sheets had to be washed failed to dent their enthusiasm for this new game.
But she learned fast, aware of the contemptuous look her uncle had thrown in her direction when leaving the room with the fist wrapped package.
Their would be no more hysterics.
The waiting was the worst part. Weeks would go by then a severed ear would turn up in a drawer or a bulls tail would be left in her wardrobe next to her one good dress. She steeled herself.
blacked it out. Didn't fuss. Grimly picking up whichever body part soiled her room then dumping it outside the house in a bin.You can get used to anything given time and as she found out
there's only so many parts to a cow. Grudgingly it stopped. She'd earned some respect.
Far worse though was the casual day to day grind in the slaughterhouse sheds outside. From early morning until after dark the machinery rumbled on .Like a living entity in the rattle of the killing
boxes, blood mixers, separators, belts and saws, an endless orchestra of noise and clanging metal. Underscoring it all the moans and screams of the distressed animals, kicking gates and walls as they were shocked and prodded into the vast machine to come out as blood, beef, veal or sausages at the other end.
One sight would remain with her forever. A downed cow, to weak to stand, accidently cut up and skinned alive, still moaning, before a man with a bolt gun seeing her watching ended its misery and slammed the door shut.
After that she avoided the farm at every opportunity, throwing herself into her music, playing guitar in a far off wood or thumping an old piano in the workers quarters half a mile down the road while
the men did their job.
Around this time she started to drink. Slicing up cattle is thirsty work. It was easy to steal alcohol in such a large neighbourhood of heavy drinkers. She didn't need as much in these early days. It helped to numb the horrors her own imagination placed in her bed, far worse than any grim reality. She rarely took a bath or shower, acutely aware of the number of single men around the property. Half wild she preferred to sponge in a remote ditch many fields away when the itching got too much. Besides she could take a thousand showers in this place and never feel clean.
Gore and burst intestines dripped down on her face every night in her dreams.
She hung on and survived. Just.
Self destructive and emotionally damaged, that survival came at a cost.
At fifteen she knew she was ready. Like her father before her she hit the road, two stolen bottles of bourbon and her guitar catching the first bus of the morning. A year ago she'd started to write songs. Would her troubled and unusual life thus far give her a unique twist on the world? The different edge and style the public seemed to crave. Something to make her stand out from the
She didn't know or care. Looking back at the silent machinery it was only important to get away before it sprang into hungry life again, grinding out animals and darkening the sun of her new
hopeful day. One thing was certain. She wouldn't be taking any shit from anybody anymore. Those days were over.
But first she'd cut out the life growing inside her like they cut up those cows. No way was she having this baby. Never to him.