He said he wouldn’t budge. He said he would stay in that one spot until they gave him what he wanted. Well, Lucky wasn’t going to back down for nothin’. He wasn’t asking for much, just a ride to the pub. But everyone knew that the only person to be lucky when he started drinking was Lucky himself. So there he stood, arms crossed, baseball cap on backwards, refusing to move.
As time went on everything around Lucky seemed to age, except for Lucky. Buildings were erected and taken down around him, time only stood still for Lucky.
No one noticed Lucky after a while. They just drove by him, going about their business, wondering only briefly if he would ever move and go back home. But Lucky was stubborn. And so when Lucky finally died of starvation the town briskly painted a coat of non-rust aluminum over his body and left him there. The aluminum kept Lucky’s body safe from the elements but over time his body tilted and he seemed to bend at an awkward angle. No one bothered to move Lucky. If that is how he wanted to stay, he could stay that way now forever.
As he stood before the doors he pondered his options. There were more doors than usual and given his last trip through he wanted to make sure he chose the right one this time. His mind went back to the last door…
I remember opening the green door. I chose green on that particular day because the trees were full of new grown leaves, the grass was freshly cut giving it a greenish glow, and the world around me seemed alive. I didn’t know at that time that green wasn’t the door for living and thriving, it was the door for rotting and spoiled, for mold upon the top of the leftovers from last week. But I had gone not knowing this. I had gone thinking of positive things and life and love. I thank God I had that positive energy, otherwise I could have been stuck there forever.
When I opened the green door last time I was greeted with an odor, an indistinct odor that I couldn’t place right away. I let the door close softly behind me as I looked down the path that was waiting for me. It was a long path and there wasn’t much around it, not like the blue door, not like the purple door either. But it was the door I chose so I would move forward.
As I walked along I could hear the soft mewing of a cat wanting to be fed and I could hear the sucking sound of a baby nursing a bottle full of warm milk. Those were pleasant sounds, I had nothing to worry about. But as I rounded the corner, unable to see more than a few steps ahead of me, I noticed the figure, the woman in a dark green cloak, her back to me.
She was a petite woman, much shorter than I. She was facing a counter, a sort of kitchen counter, where bottles were lined up ready for filling. As I walked closer I could hear her crying, softly sobbing, and wondered why. I didn’t want to startle the woman so I cleared my throat to alert her of my presence. She lifted her head slightly but did not turn around. Instead she continued to cry softly.
When I finally reached the woman I could smell the sourness of milk, the rotting smell of old food, and then strangely mixed in, the soft smell of baby powder, tenderly spread upon a clean babys’ bottom. I wanted to turn away in disgust but instead I stepped closer, looking over her shoulder. It was there that I saw where the smell was coming from…
The woman was holding a large carafe. In it was a large green growth, closely resembling lichen on an old dead tree. Below the carafe, in the sink she stood against, were more baby bottles, all filled with a green liquid.
“I can’t feed my baby this poison, this filth, but I have nothing else and he is almost done with my milk.”
That must have been the suckling sound I had heard.
“My baby will die here if I cannot feed him.”
“Why is the milk so spoiled?” I asked.
“Because I can’t find any fresh milk and this is all I have”, she replied.
Taking the carafe from her hand I tried pouring out the milk from below the mossy growth. The milk poured slowly, but with a pure white color, a miracle considering the top of the bowl.
“Here is the fresh milk”, I said.
The woman turned to me, her crying had subsided. What I saw was horror. This woman, this mother, she was a monster! The flesh on her face was as hard and green as the moss on a mountain stone. Her teeth were black and her lips were cracked with dry blood.
I turned and ran as fast as I could, pounding my feet on the path, not wanting to look back, not knowing if she was following me or not. As I came closer to the green door I felt some peace and my fear turned to sadness. I came to a stop at the opening and heard a soft song being sung. It was her. She was singing a sweet song to her baby, telling the baby he would always be okay. The singing continued, softly, gently. I breathed a sigh of relief. I would be able to get out of this horrible place but I also knew I had saved that little life. I don’t know what happened before I got there and I surely didn’t want to know what would happen once I left but I knew I had done the right thing.
Reaching for the knob he hesitated. Why was he picking this orange door? What did orange make him think of? What horror would orange be connected to? He took this moment to think, think hard about his uncertainty. Orange was a pumpkin in fall, waiting to be carved and lit by a candle. Orange was fresh fruit and vegetables on a summer morning. He couldn’t think of anything that could go wrong with this door. He guessed he would have to take his chances.
He grabbed the knob and turned it, slowly pushing the door open.
Sparks were flying as the legendary superhero raced through the streets in his sports car turned criminal catcher. The Criminal Cruncher was a spontaneous hero who could often be seen rising in the sky with a ring encircling him like the planet Saturn. The heat’s high temperature, which was emitted from the Cruncher’s car was a far cry from the temperature of the sun but it could still melt a criminal, landing him incapacitated instead of incarcerated. The Criminal Cruncher knew his powers were like magic and were what would make the future possible for the civilians in the city, though dressed in his black garb he was more ominous than hopeful. Somehow the Cruncher knew he had to find a way to rekindle the hope of the people or all of his work would be for nothing.
The child rose from the grassy area under the tree where he had been admiring the card from his schoolmate. He had seen a form in the sky that surprised him as it looked like a dragon rising up into the sky. There were dark clouds that looked like fire coming from the ferocious beast. The poor child was scared by the sight and began breathing heavily as the effervescent being drifted closer to the tree. He closed his eyes as if his lids formed a safe border between him and the monster. When he opened them again the sky sparkled off tiny raindrops like the finery in his mother’s jewelry box. He finally felt safe.
She looked out the window as the rain poured from the sky. The past few weeks had been a terrible drought so the rain was very welcome. She believed in God, a god, and felt that the rain coming down on a night like today was a symbol of courage, some sort of sign that God had been listening to them. She thought of the history of her hometown and how the people who lived here still believed in faith. Not a week had gone by, nor had any resident ever let an occasion slide by, without giving thanks for all they had. In the end, wasn’t it an onslaught of prayer and belief by the people who taught the younger generations the rights and wrongs of life here?
My focus had been on my feet, trying to maintain my footing despite the uneven ground or large roots protruding into the path. It wasn’t until I heard the snap of a branch that I looked up and saw the root cellar.
Slowly I approached and could hear the soft hum of a guitar. Was I hearing things? As soon as I walked around the side to the front of the building I saw him. It was a young boy, guitar in hand, rocking in an old wicker rocker, singing softly to himself, eyes closed, in his own little world.
Martin looked up at her. “She keeps looking this way and smiling. What for? Is there something up there that she has for me?” Martin had no idea what that “something” could be, I mean he’d only been in this world a few months and had already been whisked away from his mom and dad, brothers and sisters. “Is she planning something up there?” Martin just sat, knowing that if he continued to look up at her she would continue to look down at him and smile, and that gave him a good feeling.
“Come here, Marty, you little cutie!” Martin already hated the nickname but what was he to do? He had to smile and act like it was okay. He had no one to ask if there was a way to stop this foolishness. I mean, just a little while ago he had been plain old Martin. “Maybe she will pick me up so I can see what she is doing up there.” Martin continued to sit, holding his composure and trying to hide the anxiousness he felt inside. “If she has something up there I like then Marty won’t be such a bad name to live with!”
It wasn’t much farther but Bethany didn’t know if her legs would get her there. She had been walking for so long that she hadn’t realized she was almost home. Just a few more steps…By now she had blisters on both heels from her cheap sneakers and an ache in each of her big toes from that horrible pedicure she had spent way too much on. Why didn’t she think of these things before she left? It didn’t matter now. In a few dreaded steps up she would enter the alley that led her to her door. She couldn’t wait to get in bed and forget this whole thing had happened.