Wednesday, March 13, 2013
"Tidak, Anda harus tinggal dan bekerja. Anda tidak bisa pulang," he yelled back as he pointed to the sea of blue and green material in the nearby warehouse.
The whirring, clacking and buzzing of a thousand sewing machines in the room crowded in on the woman. She dropped down into her sewing station. Although, she knew the consequences, she lay her head down on the table and sobbed. Bulbul loved her son. He was sick and she wanted to care for him. She had pleaded with the super, but he demanded she stay. He would not allow her to go home. If she left, she risked losing her job. She hardly had enough money to pay for her food, rent, water and transportation, as it was.
The neighboring worker gently tapped her on her shoulder. When Bulbul raised her head, she started at the 15,000 rupiah on the table. Enough for his dinner and medicine! She hugged the woman for her generosity. The woman held her briefly then motioned her to return to work, muttering how important it was she keep her job.
Kuwat lay limp on the mat in the dimly lit Indonesian home. Bulbul rubbed his arm and he opened his eyes to a squint. She smiled at him. Weakness prevented his lips from moving, though he tried to return a grin. The mother touched his face as she asked her sister about his day. Concerned by the report, she pulled the medicine from it's box. Her sister propped up a pillow and leaned him against the wall. They gave him a few spoonfuls of rice and administered the medicine. Bulbul encouraged a few more bites of rice before he stopped.
"Bobo," she cooed, encouraging him to sleep.
As she made him comfortable on his mat, she caressed his clammy skin and sang an old Javanese lullaby. A sonnet her ancestors had sung on this Indonesian island many centuries before.
Before long, his eyes drooped and his chest relaxed to a placid rise and fall. Bulbul breathed a grateful sigh of relief.
"As soon as he is better, he will go to work. He is old enough!" stormed the older man in the local Indonesian dialect.
"No father! He is too young to work, he is only ten. Besides he is too weak," answered the daughter.
"But you have no husband. You have no other income, it is the only way."
"It's isn't an option. Kuwat will not work until he is older. I am his mother and that is that." She intently stared the old man in the face.
The father brushed passed his daughter, slammed the door behind him and marched down the street."
"You have a large shoe business that seems to be running well. Do you have any openings for workers?"
"In a month I'll have an opening or two. Do you want me to reserve a spot for you?" "Not for me, but for my grandson."
The employer took the information and the men shook in agreement.
"It's done Bulbul. Kuwat will start work in one month. I've made the arrangements with the local shoe company and you can't back out. I am a man of my word and I will not renege on the contract, because it's best for the boy."
Bulbul's eyes blazed as he spoke. In a firm and steady voice she retorted, "Get out of my house at once and do not return. My son will not work for any of your friends, and you will not control him nor me. "
The father walked out the door.
"Which shoe company?" she breathed.
He continued forward without answering her.
Bulbul held back from hitting him with every restraint in her body. She did not deliver a blow, only because he was her father. Her son's protection was her utmost priority. There were many shoe factories in the city and he had countless connections. She had no idea where to start her search to break the deal.
A thought splintered into her muddled mind. A friend worked in a factory on the east side of Java. She sat down to write a post to see if she could get a job at her factory. She called a delivery boy to pick up the letter so her sister did not see her plan when she came to watch Kuwat the following day.
A few chapters later . . . .
In the middle of her planning, she heard the creaking of the door and her father walked in.
"It's time, Bulbul," he demanded.
"I told you not to come in my home," the daughter responded angrily, moving in front of him.
"My friend said the position opened early." He pushed her aside and went outside where Ruwat played with his ball.
Time moved in slow motion as his grandfather lunged toward him. He looked toward his mother and saw her mouth, "Run, run to Jasmine!"
As she watched Hilda plow through two packs of cigarettes within the last four hours, Sophie realized Hilda had forgotten all about her. If she wasn't so hungry, she gladly could have accepted this scenario. She knocked on the door and yelled for Hilda.
"Quit your yammering. Whadaya want?" she said as she opened the door.
"Help yourself to anything ya want kid," she motioned to the refrigerator.
Relieved food was that easily accessible, she opened the fridge. She grabbed a container of yogurt, some cheese and sweet Lebanon bologna. Seeing rolls in the back of the top rack, she pushed the milk out of the way and pulled out a bottle of bourbon and placed it on the counter to reach the rolls. Retrieving the desired item, she reached to put the bourbon back but then a conniving thought came to mind. She'd leave it out and see what happened. She exaggerated the difficulty of putting the sandwich together because of her handcuffs.
"Alright, just this once. I'll undo your handcuffs. Don't expect it again kid."
"Of course not. But could you take off my feet cuffs for a while? They're scraping against my ankles."
She hesitated and then unlocked the cuffs.
"You okay Hilda?"
"Somethin's happened to Reiman. Not sure what. But I've got a gut feeling it's bad." She walked over to the bottle on the counter, grabbed a snifter from the cupboard and filled it to the top. Sophie smiled to herself behind her captor's back. She grabbed a bag of chips, sat at the table and ate her meal nonchalantly, biding her time. Considering the woman had gone through two packs, she probably hadn't had much to eat. If she drank like she smoked, she should be significantly intoxicated within the next hour or so. She talked to Hilda as if she were a kind next door neighbor who lost her best friend.
Sophie asked her questions about how she and Reiman met, what they did together. It wasn't anything too shocking, and it helped place some pieces that she had difficulty putting together. As Hilda poured the glass a couple more times she got loopier, and divulged more and more information.
"I'm sorry I took ya kid. You're pretty nice after all."
"That's alright. We'll make it through this."
"No, I mean when you were younga."
"A pimp nabbed your mom when she was pregnant with you. She pleaded that he allow her to keep the baby to term. He did, on one condition. That he could dictate which 'kind and loving home' the baby went to." Hilda used lopsided air quotes as she talked. "He fed her some line and showed her pictures of a 'generous, wonderful family'," she once again pulled out the air quotes. “And she happily obliged. After you were born, I took you. And you know the rest of the story."
Sophie held back a sarcastic remark. She saw freedom in the near horizon. She could process her history later.
"And look at us now."
"Say, is that woman still alive?"
"Last I knew she was in New York City somewheres, but that was about ten years ago. Might be dead by now, I don't know. Sagwatch. Luanne, no, Lucy, umm Laverne. Laverne Sagwatch." Sophie grabbed the sole pen on the table and wrote the name on her stomach as Hilda filled her glass again.
"Know where I could find out more information on her?"
"The files. I'll show you when I take you to the air. . . ooo, I'm not feeling so hot. I think I'm gonna go lie down."
"I'll help you to the sofa. Hilda, where are ya gonna take me?"
"You're gonna take me to the sofa. I haven't felt this bad in ages," she said with a slur.
"Yeah, you said something before, ah never mind. Just rest. You'll feel better." Sophie couldn't believe she had real compassion for this woman beyond this act. She grabbed the blanket on the back of the couch and put it over her. She raced to the bathroom. When she came out she heard Hilda snoring loudly. She tiptoed into Hilda's room. Thank goodness she wore the same size. She slipped on a pair of sneakers, grabbed a flashlight and went out the door that led outside from the bedroom.
"Thank you God. I may start believing in you! If you're up there, please help me." She raced down the long winding driveway and headed toward town.
Troy Henson pulled over to the side of the road and looked at the map. Syracuse. He was getting closer. He only had a couple hours to go. Adrenaline still pulsed through his veins from the kill earlier that day. He didn't expect that Hilda would make it through the night, if he found her. He remembered the girl. He had seen on the news that Reiman and Hilda were suspected of kidnapping a girl. They had had pictures of her on the news. What would he do with her?
Sophie had no idea how long Hilda would be out but she wanted to get as far away as possible. She finally navigated her way through the country roads and found the main highway on the edge of Canton. What if Hilda and Reiman had friends in this town? She couldn't ask for help here. Perhaps she needed to walk to the next town, down the highway. She needed to find someone who trustworthy, who would let her call Tricia. She hadn't thought to take Hilda's phone. Oh well. It was too late to go back now.
"Canton, six miles," Henson read the sign with a sneer. He pressed the gas pedal to the floor of the car. When he reached a gas station with a convenience store south of Canton he went inside and asked for a phone book. He scanned the book. There was no Strain there. What if he had come all this way only to, wait. She and Reiman were partners. He looked up Reiman. Nothing. He thought back to his early days with the publisher. Had Reiman always gone by the same name? Jack the Hack is what some called him then. Jack Hackman. He went back to the 'H' section. There it was. South Cane Rd. He returned the phone book and asked directions to South Cane Rd. He gassed up, paid in cash and continued north.
She saw a bright light ahead of her aways. Maybe she could stop at the gas station and ask how long it was to the next town. She was getting tired and needed to sit down.
Henson flicked on his bright lights. He hated driving at night. A person on the side of the road caught his attention. He pulled over to the side of the road. It was the same girl Reiman kidnapped.
"Hey, you okay out here girl?" he asked her as he rolled his window down.
"Fine thanks." Sophie started walking more briskly.
"Are you sure you don't need a ride."
"Positive, I'm good," she started to saunter.
Henson jumped out of his car and ran after her.
She yelled but they were too far away from the station. He gained on her quickly and caught her. She groaned. How could this be happening? Troy dragged her over to the car. He found a loose rope on the back seat and tied her hands together and locked the door.
"What are you doing to me?"
"We have mutual friends."
"John Reiman and Hilda Strain."
"Did she tell you that I . . .?"
"That you what?"
Sophie caught herself. Maybe this was a coincidence. Maybe he had no idea she escaped. The confusion flustered her.
"Anyway, I'm on my way up to see Hilda now."
Sophie groaned again.
Troy Henson pulled down the road that led to South Cane.
Hilda awoke with a start. Where was she? She lifted her head. It panged with soreness. Sophie. Where was she? She got off the sofa and called out her name. She didn't answer. She stumbled to Sophie's room. She was gone!
She grabbed the car keys and staggered to the vehicle. It took a few tries to find the ignition but she started the car and headed towards town. Her head was so clouded she turned right instead of left. She weaved from one side of the road to the next until she found herself in the town north of Canton. Growling to herself, she headed back to town. She crept through the streets of the burg. She got on the main highway and started south. She looked at her watch. Sophie couldn't have gotten far. After searching the next town she turned around and came back. She would try the east side of the cabin. Perhaps Sophie had gone through the woods.
When Troy arrived at the house, all the lights were on.
"Surprise, dear Hilda," he said to the air.
He got out of the car, came around to Sophie's side and pulled her into the house with him. "Hilda, I've brought your girl back."
He absently let go of Sophie and dashed through the cabin to find Hilda. By the time he emerged from the bedroom and realized what he'd done, Sophie slipped out of Reiman's house and locked the front door behind her. She remembered that he left the keys in the ignition. One of the older girls had given her a couple practice runs in the church parking lot at their missionary complex, but she had never done more than that. Tonight the car was her best bet of an escape. She undid the rope on her hands as she made her way to the car. She saw Troy attempt to open the door. She started the ignition as he finagled it open. She pressed the gas pedal hard as the car jolted backward. He nearly reached the car and Sophie blared the horn at him. The unexpected noise startled him and he tripped over a tree root. Sophie backed up again and drove even faster down the winding drive. Her head spun as she raced down the drive. How was she doing this? Another power took control as she maneuvered her way back. She heard him screaming in front of the house as he kept tripping over the roots. Once on South Cane Rd, she drove full speed ahead. She saw him race down the hill. She pushed the pedal harder. She blew by him and he ran behind the car. She kept going and did not stop until she got to the highway. Hilda was around here somewhere. She grabbed the hat on the floor and tucked her hair away to disguise her look.
"Thank you God. I'm starting to believe you more and more. There's no way I did that back there by myself. " She looked down at the tank. It was full. She noticed a glow coming from the cup holder. A phone. This was becoming more and more unbelievable. She drove cautiously down the road to the town below Canton and pulled over onto a side road. She dialed Tricia's number. Soon she would have help!
Hilda, weary from the drive and her intoxication, drove back to the house. As she came over a nearby hill, she saw the form of a man walking up the drive. Were there one or two men? Just one. She shook her head for clarity. That was not Reiman. From a distance it resembled the other guy he worked with. What was his name? Whatever his name was, she didn't trust him, since Reiman hadn't. She let the car roll down the hill in reverse and steered the car in the other direction. She wasn't sure where to go, but she wasn't ever going back to Reiman's house.
Friday, February 1, 2013
My first picture is one I couldn't resist taking. . . the tollbooth on the way here. To the average person, this may seem a little strange, but I truly wasn't just being random and touristy! One of the last times I was in New York, I got into the wrong toll lane and lived in fright for the next month, after being told they take a picture of your license plate and fine you if you venture into the wrong lane, that a camera took a picture of mine. Thankfully the notice never made it's way to my mailbox, but it made a lasting impressing and felt I needed to record that yes, I did remember to get in the right lane this time!
The "I Love Sandy Hook" signs are created by Kim Hossler, one of the vendors at The Toy Tree.
Sandy Hook doesn't impress you as a town known for a shooting. This school was rated one of the safest in the United States. And you can see why. The thought that came to my mind after hearing that statistic, is that there really is no safe place. It doesn't matter whether we are in the safest town or the most dangerous town. No place is safe, except with God. When we trust him, we are truly the safest. And although the children are no longer with us, I do believe that they are in the care of the God who whisked them off to His home, the safest place in the world.
I accidentally came across the school even though it wasn't my intention. I really didn't want to visit, as I didn't come here to catch the horror of the event, I wanted to capture the hope that has come from it. But I passed a driveway of a church I wanted to enter and had to turn around. There at the end of the lane I turned down was a school nestled behind the town with a no trespassing signs on its fence, so I'm guessing it was Sandy Hook. (I double checked and yes, it was the school) Truly a safe place, one would think. What I did find nearby were signs reminding the town of what it will choose to believe now.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
"Merry Christmas!" I proclaimed in return.
"Merry Christmas?" you ask, "but it's the end of June!"
May I present the eclectic, fascinating, and truly one of the most brilliant, beautiful minds I have ever been privileged to observe. It belongs to 'Robbie'. He has autism. Yesterday he came into the van hollering "Outside, Outside". I was thrilled. For being a non-verbal young man, he has a vast repertoire and I love hearing every seeming new addition to his growing vocabulary.
I have learned over the years that where there are significant weaknesses in a person, there are also equally paramount strengths. This boy is a human, walking GPS. His directional ability is second to no one I've ever encountered. Sometimes strengths are visible, other times those abilities lay dormant or un-utilized until someone is able to harness a person's potential. What if someone was able to creep into the minds of the autistic and train their strengths to their most magnificent form? Can you even imagine what contributions their entrance would mean to the world! Many people consider them lesser, weaker individuals. But they could not be more wrong, unworthy to tread the same soil as their 'lesser' co-minglers.
Though his inconsistencies are many, they are masterful. He is gentle, with the sweet kisses he gives his mother. He makes quiet noises, and his mumblings remind me of the speaker on our high school French dictation tapes. He is orderly and organized, sorting through his papers with the skill of an executive assistant. He is unemotional, yet he laughs quietly at the private jokes only he will ever know. He is terrifying, a sudden thunderstorm of raucous noises. He looks at his pictures mindlessly. All within the span of moments. But in the midst of the hurricane of differences, lay bare the beauty of the real and true 'Robbie'. There is a steadfast compass inside of him, a predetermined sense of true north that he does not swerve from. He does not, he cannot hide who he truly is. That, in itself, is one virtue that the world should look at more closely.
He is a splendid soul, created for an undeniable purpose and I love him. And I do hope that one day, someone will find a way to magnify his strengths and help him become the amazing person that lies unseen inside. But in the meantime, he will continue to affect his loved ones, just by being the person he is today.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Later that day, Ramona and Henry invited myself, my mother, Tricia and Mark over for dinner. After an emotional goodbye earlier that day, Aunt Darlene had gone home, so did not join us.
Before Emma called us for dinner, Ramona huddled us together. "There is something I want to show you." she said. Along with Andrew, she herded us into the family room. There above the fireplace was my quilt that Ramona and I had just framed a couple days previously.
Ramona told the story for Mom's benefit. "And look at the message in the middle." She paused to allow the saying to sink in and then said aloud, "God please give us grace to heal our hurts."
"Oh Honey, it's exquisite. A masterpiece." She held me close. I hugged her tight then explained how I used the words in the scarves to create a message to ask for help when in the Asylum and how I used those same words to create the new phrase of hope. I went over to my new scarves just created in Thailand.
After looking at each Mom repeated the phrase I had stitched in my new series, ‘Hope from Despair. Beauty from Ashes’. She nodded quietly and her lip quivered. She so understood that statement.
When Emma called us all for dinner, Henry gave the blessing. "Father in heaven, we have so much to be thankful to you for tonight. Thank you for bringing our boy home safely to us. Thank you for bringing Elena back with her mother. We are amazed at what you have done and just want to praise you for the miraculous works. Thank you for Emma, and another fine meal she has provided us tonight. In your precious name, Amen."
The evening passed all too quickly. The celebratory atmosphere from that afternoon continued through the evening. Before we left, I walked into the family room to look at the quilt one more time. Andrew walked in behind me and closed the door. He stood beside me and held me close to his side. My heart twirled.
"You put the pieces of my heart back together again Elena. I love you for that." I smiled back at him. Just as he reached for my lips, his cell phone, which Captain Kapersky just returned to him that day, rang. I silently sighed a little, disappointed.
"Hello. Yep, just a moment. It's for you, Elena." he said smiling.
"Who is it ?" I asked
"Not sure, maybe the paper? Someone who wants to talk to the 'heroine.'"
I laughed, "Hello, this is Elena." As soon as I heard the voices on the other end, my breath caught and my face burned.
"Elena! What is it Sweetheart?" asked Andrew.
I hung up the phone. It slipped from my hands and dropped to the floor. I was too dazed to answer.
Madelyn's heart palpitated as they approached the ocean. It also panged with ache. She missed her mother, she missed Andrew, and her father seemed so far away. She wished to experience the ocean with all of them.
Once they reached their destination, a villa near Mu Ko Simiian Marine National Park, they unloaded their belongings and settled in.
"Thank you Aunt Abigail for bringing us here. I'm so thankful to the doctor for ‘forcing’ us to vacation."
"Ironically Madelyn, this is the town I spoke to you about when we traveled over here. This is my favorite place in Thailand. It is a beautiful area. So when the guys mentioned coming to Phang Nga, I thought it providential since this is where I wanted to bring you."
"Hmmmm, funny how that works!"
After a relaxing mid-afternoon lunch at a touristy bistro, they walked along the white sandy shoreline. The soothing water relaxed Elena as she walked along the beach. The restful aqua pools quieted her nervous heart. She laughed at the boulders. Their gray smooth texture and placement reminded her of the family of elephants they had seen just days previously. A rainbow spectrum of colors swam in the water near her. Speckleds and stripes, greens and yellows, purples and reds splashed playfully, as if putting on a show just for her. A purple fish brushed past Madelyn and tickled her leg. She giggled and the tension from the last couple weeks instantly disappeared.
"Mmmm, smell that Aunt Abigail. Isn't it delicious?"
"Orchids. Your mother loved orchids."
"She wrote endlessly in all of her letters about all the varieties of orchids over here. She even sent pictures. I'll have to show you when we get home."
As they continued to wait, Madelyn stood thoughtfully. That comment was her first connection to her mother here. She had loved the orchids of this country. If only she could follow that scent to her mother. They waited a few more minutes and after no response from the inside, they left.
On the way back to the villa, they stopped at an open air market filled with fruit and vegetable vendors, local artisans and musicians. Music charmed the air as a young man played a traditional Thai tune on his klui. With exception of the fish aroma drenching the air, Madelyn loved the atmosphere. She stopped at each vendor and admired the artwork, jewelry and handcrafted clothing. She even bartered for rambutans with a friendly fruit seller. With a knife, he sliced one of the spiny red fruits in half and motioned for her to drink the juice inside. She then popped the ball shaped fruit in her mouth and savored it's sweetness.
Madeline and her little troupe walked down the road a little farther and saw vendors along the nearby canal. Voices thronged as sampans swarmed the canal, nearly overflowing with durian, phak bung, mango, papaya, sugar peas, peanuts, shitakes, and lotus root purchased from the canal markets. Along with the fruits and vegetables, vendors sold cooking pots and collapsible hats, ornate hats and simple hats. Lots of hats! Umbrellas attached to boats splashed the canal with color as people made every effort to stay cool in the burning sun. Even if she learned nothing new that day, the brevity of the visit was temporarily broken with the sights and sounds of a hidden spot of the world she had never even imagined she would see.