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A Wave of Claustrophobic Darkness


Several street lights were burnt out causing many shades of darkness to drape over the alleys over on East Main Street and Stratford Avenue. In one of those shades of darkness death waits. It remained quiet until someone discovered the body. A sixteen year old Puerto Rican female, just about 72 pounds. Anorexic and that was no longer an issue.

Death could wait. It was so accustomed to waiting, in fact sometimes it could wait a lifetime. However, that wasn't the case for Amelia Fernandez. Death was hovering over her like the moonlight, sensed but unseen.

A homeless man peeked down the alley and saw the body slumped down on the pavement like tossed garbage. He knew it was a body, but he was too far to be sure. He called out in a soft whisper. He knew it would carry, and if that body was alive, he could be heard.

He could check the pockets for valuables, he thought. Lord knew he could use some valuables. He haven't had a good meal in months. He looked at the body and allowed the thought to continue. He thought about walking away too. If it was a murder he didn't want to leave prints over the body.

His stomach rumbled and he tried to settle it by inhaling the dirty air. That was it, he had to inspect it closer. He had no choice. His stomach kept reminding him of that fact.

With that, he walked toward the crumbled body like a silent shadow on the wall. He hesitated when he reached the body and saw that it was a young, thin girl. She was strangled and her neck popped instantly. He could tell because of the bones sticking out of her flesh. She wasn't smelling badly yet, so he assumed she was murdered just a few hours ago.

He saw something shiny next to the body and he quickly picked it up. It was an earring still attached to a partial ear. He closed his eyes and suddenly felt a wave of claustrophobic darkness wash over him. He had to steady himself and then he was able to remove the jewelery from the severed ear,

The homeless man looked around the alley and realized her final days alive was spent in such a dreary place. The walls were burnt orange, mostly from urination, and the asphalt was dirty brown and filthy. It was the last thing she saw. Even though death was hovering, he knew that she would have never noticed the surroundings.

He reached down and removed the other earring from the ear still attached. He noticed that her jeans were ripped and pulled down to her ankles. He grimaced as he pulled them up and buckled them. He fixed her torn blouse, the best way he could and then he checked her pockets and found six dollars. He closed his eyes and shoved the money into his own at the same time. He wiped the dry blood off her face and fixed her hair. She had a watch on her extra boney wrist and he slowly removed it. He shoved it into his back pocket and sighed.

The young girl was hopelessly helpless, period. Someone probably did her a favor by killing her, thought the homeless man. How could you live knowing that you were forced upon. The violence was undoubtedly real and brutal. How can anyone live a life after it, he continued thinking.

He stood over the body hoping the religious words he was going to say would counteract the violent way she died. Perhaps her spirit would travel without the memory of what happened. He knew that despair had washed over her and cleansed whatever it could.

There was a hand graffiti cross on the alley wall and the homeless man just focused on that. He prayed her soul would find Heaven. He also prayed that the person responsible for her violent death would suffer just as violent a death. He prayed for the young girl as tears fell from his dirty face and onto the crumbled body. He said as many words he could remember from the Bible and then bowed his head for a few seconds.

He took off his jacket that was given to him by the homeless shelter and thought he'd never part with it, covered the young girl. He then made the sign of the cross and slowly walked away.

There he left the girl in blackness. The doom had ended, the violence had vanished, and the life that once filled that tiny body was no longer. However, the alley was black, and the only light there would forever be trapped in a wave of claustrophobic darkness.


© 2018 Frank Atanacio

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