Remember this post? Well, I started writing out character background chapters to turn it into a book. So, here is another character.
Ben ran down the crowded street, away from the body sprawled on the cement. Clutching the purse tightly to his chest, he focused straight ahead, legs pumping in effort to keep an increasingly large distance between him and the police. His heart felt as if it would explode from exertion and fear, he had never been so close to so much trouble. Yet, trouble was not in the least bit unusual for him to get into, it clung to him like a residual odor. His senior class mock elections just voted him “Most Likely To Have The Most Extensive Criminal Record”. It wasn’t exactly an honor he wore with pride. He wasn’t quite certain how he had sunk to these depths but he couldn’t think about his life right now, he had a more pressing matter.
The cops were catching up to him, he could practically feel their breath on his neck, so he tried to will himself to run a little faster. He wasn’t a runner. In fact, exercise wasn’t one of his strong points but, he had to get away from the police or he was up a creek. They’d never believe him that the bloody mess of a body lying on the sidewalk had nothing to do with him and this purse that she was holding was, coincidentally, his mothers’. He just was happening to steal it back for her, it had been grabbed from her on the same street a few evenings earlier after she had left the movie theatre. Why that beaten woman was carrying it was something he knew nothing about. What he did know was with his rap sheet, they would print and book him, words unheard and without meaning.
He was tiring, slowing down. Quitting smoking was definitely a priority, as was starting a new workout routine, if he ever got out of this mess. With three police directly behind him, there were just too many of them, he was kidding himself if he thought he could outrun them. He’d have to give himself up and hope for the best. He wasn’t a murderer, he’d never been convicted of anything close to that heinous. Petty criminal things like unarmed B&E and possession with intent to sell-those were his m.o. Murder or carrying weapons that could actually cause bodily harm? Never. He was too much of a chicken shit to hurt or kill someone. Besides, blood made him throw up.
Ben stopped running and put his hands in the air, still tightly gripping his mothers handbag. The policeman in the lead, a young guy who was most likely a rookie, grabbed him securely by the arm and relieved him of the bag, while handcuffing him. Proudly, he dragged him like a prize over to where the other two older policemen were doubled over to catch their breath. “Good job, Rocko.” The oldest of the three complimented and high fived him while still breathing heavily. “Read him his rights and let’s get him in to the station to book him. I gotta get home, it’s Janie’s birthday with the family. She’s turned 8 today. My oldest granddaughter, where does the time go?” He said, proudly.
They recited the Miranda rights to the already handcuffed Ben and roughly dragged him toward the waiting patrol car, putting him on display as an example for the crowd of onlooker pedestrians, proving the Birmingham cops always get their man. He was placed in the car and taken to the station.
Once the official booking protocol was over, he was thrown into a holding cell. He was allowed his one call but he hadn’t used it yet. He wasn’t sure what he was waiting for but something within him told him to just hang in there, the person he really needed couldn’t be reached by telephone. Where that thought came from was way beyond him. He wasn’t even sure that was his own voice talking to him in his head. “No way. It’s my imagination. It’s stress and feening a smoke. Yep. That’s what it is.” He shook his head to try to clear it of that voice so that he could think.
He sat on the bench in-between a hooker and her pimp who were arguing through him. On the floor, in the corner, was an old man who was rocking back and forth while chanting to himself. Ben fixated on him for a few moments in fascination. There was something very familiar about him but he couldn’t place it. Something about the strength and power the man exuded, even though he was clearly a stark-raving lunatic, he was sure he had encountered him somewhere before. Or maybe he just looked like every other old guy he’d seen at the old folks home where he had visited his grandfather, up until he had died a couple years earlier.
He was brought out of his stalker-like stare when the hooker and pimp started smacking each other over him, yelling at each other about money and sex. Which is obviously why they were sitting here in the first place.
“Whoa, hello.” Ben exclaimed as he jumped up off the bench, narrowly missing being clocked in the cheek. He walked over to the front of the cell and called out through the bars for help. “Anyone? It’s getting ugly in here! Oh, c’mon! And I’m thirsty. Hello?” No one came. They were probably all celebrating Janies birthday and feasting on vanilla ice cream and cake with butter-cream frosting.
“Starving.” Ben muttered to himself, holding his growling stomach and walking to the far end of the cell, away from the battling duo, who were now hugging and laughing. “That relationship is more bi-polar than my dad.” He plopped himself down on the ground.
He was staring, busying himself by counting how many tiles there were on the floor when he felt a hole, boring into the top of his head. He looked up to see the old man was now fixated on him. “His eyes, those are some screwed up peepers.” They were cataract white he noticed as he stared back into them, the sclera and iris were one. The longer their gaze was locked, he saw that those eyes were like swirling clouds that were trying to suck him in. Ben broke stare down war first.
“Good to see you again, son.” The old man spoke gently.
“Um, huh. Yeah.” What the heck did this guy mean by again?
Ben glanced over at the hooker and pimp and realized they were suddenly frozen like garden statues. Their mouths were still open in argument, hands raised in expression. The jail started shaking violently like there was an earthquake only, there were never earthquakes in Birmingham, Michigan.
The old man reached his hand toward Ben. “Grab my hand. Come, there is no time to explain. We must leave. Now. They’ll be fine. I just can’t stay here any longer.”
Ben didn’t think twice, he grabbed the man’s hand assuming they were breaking out of this place. The old mans hand was strong and smooth. That was all Ben had noticed because as soon as the old man’s hand closed around Bens, he lost consciousness.
When he awoke, he was greeted by a ceiling and wall of clouds and a beautiful blonde girl standing over him with an amused look on her face.
“Where the heck am I?” Ben sat up, dazed and confused. “One minute I’m in jail and the next minute WHOA.”
The girl looked at Ben and then glanced over her shoulder where the old man stood. He nodded at her. Ben noticed he didn’t look as ancient as he had when he was huddled on the floor of the jail cell. “He doesn’t remember.” Her voice was melodious, peaceful.
“Sometimes it takes longer for some than others, my dear. Give our friend Odysseus time, it will all come back.”
The old man looked at Ben, “Welcome back son. Soon you will understand. But first, I must go and collect the others. Make yourself comfortable, you’ll find that’s easy to do, here on Olympus.”
“Olympus? What? Where the heck am I? I’ve got to get back home, I have, you know…stuff.”
“I’m afraid you won’t be going back so soon. We have a situation that is in dire need of being taken care of, Odysseus. I need you here, on Mt. Olympus. I need you to work on remembering. Pandora here will help you remember and find your way around while I am gone.” And he disappeared into a cloud.
Ben looked at Pandora. “Who the heck is that man?” he was shaking violently. This whole day was freaking him out and all he wanted was a cigarette and his bed.
“That,” Pandora smiled, “Was Zeus. Rest now and try to remember. We’ll talk later.” She kissed his cheek and walked out of his room of clouds.
“She’s freaking hot though, I’ll tell you what.” Ben nodded in agreement with himself. “HOT.”
If he wasn’t going anywhere, he might as well get comfortable here. And WHOA, did he feel exhausted. He yawned and stretched. Maybe a nap will help. And maybe, when he woke up, he’ll realize this was all just a bad trip.
Ben closed his eyes and as he drifted off, he wondered what it was that the old man called Zeus was expecting him to remember.