Tuesday, October 30, 2012
On an overcast evening, Zachary Moore had driven to the mall to compare prices on some items he planned to buy when his SSDI check would be deposited in a few days. The reason why he was drawing SSDI was that he had injured his back whilst working as a roustabout in the shipyards six years ago. After the injury, he applied for a low-income apartment and was granted one four months later. He was a lonely twenty-five-going-on-twenty-six-year-old, but kept busy writing and working on computers. He had been employed, nearly full time from the ages of fifteen to nineteen, first as a shopping cart attendant and then as a shipyard roustabout when he turned eighteen.
Meanwhile, Tiffany Taylor had snuck out of her parent’s house and went to hang out with friends at the mall. She had been out of high school for over a year but was unable to land any sort of job. She had been growing up in such a toxic environment for the past nineteen years and desperately wanted out. Her parents were constantly at each others’ throats and took out the remainder of their frustrations on her, verbally, emotionally, and even physically. Still, she was nervous about all the human trafficking stories she had seen and heard and was raised in an extremely religious home, so she was still a virgin and wanted to stay that way until she met her future husband. Her parents refused to let her date though because she was under their roof with no real job. She had enough, hence sneaking out with her friends, in the first place. She also needed a ride to the mall to buy some more art supplies. When they arrived, one of her friends proceeded to light up a joint, another one took a hit of Acid. Tiffany freaked out, grabbed her phone and her messenger bag, which was filled with her art supplies and a few other personal items, and then left the car. Storm clouds began to move in and the sky grew dark. Tiffany walked into the mall entrance and then directly to a locally owned art supply store that she frequented. It was next to Sears, where Zachary was looking at some tools and clothing. He also was in the market for a new computer that he could write on since his current computer was getting to be out of date.
They both walked out of their stores and Tiffany was walking forward, but facing sideways. Her eyes were fixated on a mural that was on the wall. She hoped one day to get a job painting murals in public spaces. Meanwhile, Zachary was writing down the prices of the items he wanted in a composition book and not paying attention to where he was walking either. They bumped into each other and Zachary fell to the floor.
“Gosh durnit, my back! It hurts!” He gnashed his teeth in great pain, took several deep breaths, then looked up to see whom he bumped into.
It was as if most of the pain instantly ceased when he laid eyes on Tiffany.
She looked down at him and said, “I’m so sorry, let me help you up.”
Their hands met and there was even more of a spark of attraction.
“Do you need medical attention?” Tiffany asked.
“I think I’ll be fine. I just need to rest on a bench for a while.”
Tiffany then pulled Zachary to his feet and asked, “Could I walk you to a bench? I want to make sure you’re all right.”
“Sure. I don’t mind.” They walked.
“How’s your back now?”
“Still hurts, but just slightly.”
There was an awkward silence, then Tiffany asked, “You’re not going to sue me, are you?”
“No. I wouldn’t have a case anyway, my back was damaged years prior to this. So it’s very sensitive.”
“You’re just being nice.”
“No. It’s true. I injured my back on the job six years ago and have been drawing disability ever since.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m 25 and will be 26 on February 1st.”
“Wow, you don’t look that old. I mean, you’re really cute.”
“Thank you for the kind compliment, but you need not sweet-talk me, I promise I won’t sue for even a penny.”
“No. I really mean it, you’re cute.”
They both blushed but then Zachary asked, “How old are you? You may think I am cute, but I must not keep company with a minor.”
“I’m nineteen but I will be twenty on April 26th.”
“So what is your name?”
“Zachary Moore, but those who like me call me Zack.”
“Well, I’d like to call you Zack, then.” They both blushed, then Tiffany continued, “I’m Tiffany Taylor, by the way.”
“That’s a pretty name.”
“Thanks. How do you feel about me calling you Zack?”
“Because I like you?”
“Is there a chance you like me as well?”
“Well, I tell you the truth, I was in a great deal of pain when I fell, but I beheld your pretty face, and at that very moment 90% of the pain ceased. I must have had a rush of endorphins.”
“Aww. You’re really sweet to tell me that.”
“It’s true, you know.”
They both blushed again.
Tiffany then asked, “So what’s in your composition book?”
“Oh, this? I wrote some prices down for items that I plan to purchase shortly. I’m researching to get the best possible deal.” Zachary paused then said, “Also I have some ideas for stories I am working on.”
“Wow, you’re a writer?”
Zachary blushed, then said, “Yes. I always wanted to pursue a career as a writer, but couldn’t stomach the additional academic requirements. I was employed from the ages of fifteen to nineteen but would write on my days off. I read volumes of online tutorials to improve my grammar.”
“That’s amazing. Could you share your story ideas with me?”
Zachary began to read to Tiffany.
She stared at him, smiling from ear to ear.
Suddenly, she felt slight distress as she asked “Do you have any girlfriend or wife?”
“No. I am wholly single.”
“That’s hard to believe, I mean you’re cute, you’re sweet and you write these beautiful stories.”
“But I am afflicted with a wretched disability, so no women desire me.”
“It’s their loss.”
“Thank you, that means a great deal to me!”
“What is your living situation?”
“I live alone in a low-income apartment.”
“At least you have your own place, I stay with my parents and they are always in a bad mood and constantly bicker. They are uptight about everything I like and take out all their anger on me.”
“Seems to me that they are suffering from a lack of intimacy.” Zachary blushed and then said, “Oh, sorry that came out wrong.”
No, I think you’re right. I’ve never once seen them show any affection towards each other.”
“I would never desire a relationship such as that. I mean if I was blessed with a special someone in my life, I would forever be showering her with my affections.”
“You’re really sweet. I know that you say no one wants you and I truly think that it’s their loss. Do you think it could be my gain?”
“Yes. I’d desire that wholeheartedly!”
“Then why don’t you ask me out?”
“Very well, Tiffany Taylor, will you be my girlfriend? I don’t have very much to offer, but I solemnly promise to make you my queen and shower you with affection, if you say yes. And not only that, I promise you my time, my loyalty, and my fidelity.”
Tiffany’s eyes twinkled as she beamed, then nodded several times and strongly embraced him as she spoke, “Oh most definitely, yes, Zack Moore!”
Zachary put his arms around Tiffany as well and held her close to him.
She rested her head on his chest for just a moment, to which he kissed the top of her head.
“That’s sweet, but I want a real kiss.”
“Very well,” Zachary replied.
Both were filled with giddiness as their eyes closed, their faces met and their lips pressed for a moment then sucked with passion.
Fireworks went off in both of their minds as they exchanged several more kisses until a security guard shouted, “Halt! Knock off with the kissing right this instant or I am kicking both of you out of my mall!”
“Could I have your phone number, for us to keep in contact?” Zachary asked.
“Of course, you silly goose! I was hoping you’d ask.”
Tiffany then pulled a blank piece of paper out of her messenger bag, tore it in half, then wrote her cell phone number on one piece. She then handed it along with her pencil and the blank piece to Zachary, to which he wrote his number on the other and handed it back to her. Subsequently, they programmed the numbers in each others’ phones.
Tiffany noticed the clock on her phone and became nervous as she spoke, “Oh no, it’s 5:15 my parents will be home soon.”
Seconds later there was a tremendously loud crash of thunder.
She assumed the fetal position and began to rock back and forth, then said, “I have no ride home and I don’t want to walk home because I am deathly afraid of lightning. Some friends drove me to the mall, but then I left them when I saw they had drugs. They probably wouldn’t give me a ride now.”
Zachary held her gently and said, “I can drive you home, but I respect you far too much to drive you home in this sort of weather, thereby placing you in danger of an accident.”
It now began to rain in torrents as the lightning fiercely flashed and the thunder angrily rumbled.
“You’re right. It’s just my parents will be furious when they get home and I’m not there. Of course, they’ll be furious with me regardless.”
“Would they ever strike you?”
“Good Lord! Even though you’re an adult.”
“They said that if I don’t like it, that’s tough because I’m under their roof. They’ve even burned my paintings that I could have sold simply because they want me to work hard for a living.”
“I think they’re miserable and they believe you ought to be miserable as well.”
“They would also throw in how they paid for my education in catholic schools for all those years and I’m not doing anything with it.” She paused then said, “It was the arts program at my school that made me want to be an artist. Of course, then, they would accuse me of being smart-aleck.”
“I despised going to school, to the point where I dropped out and became employed. I knew early on that high school taught very few useful things. To me, high school is a deliberately broken system used by this wretched society of ours to crush the wonderous spirits of youth and turn them into compliant, soul-less drones. All a high school degree proves is that the holder of it can do many tasks that he or she desires not to do. Most employers demand people exactly like that, sadly. I wish I would have paid more attention in English because it’s just now that I am catching up on my grammar skills.”
“Wow! I’ve noticed that too. It’s just I had no choice but to go to school.”
“Let me guess, your parents would beat you if you didn’t, right?”
“My parents agreed that I would work as much as legally possible if I dropped out. I’m glad they made me work because now I have a pretty decent income from SSDI.”
“When did you drop out?”
“I was seventeen and still a freshman.”
“Wow! But you write and speak so eloquently.”
“And you do come out with brilliant ideas. To tell the truth, I would love to have you read to me while I paint.”
“And I would love to examine your paintings and be inspired to write even more.”
“Where have you been all my life, Zack?”
“Oh nowhere really, but I do think there was a reason why we bumped into each other!”
“So do I!” Tiffany paused, then continued, “How much money do you get a month?”
“Wow, that’s the same amount my mom clears in a month. And how much is your rent?”
“It’s like two hundred something.”
“The utilities are fairly cheap, I don’t subscribe to cable, my cell phone is only $50 a month which provides me unlimited talking and texting and I subscribe to home Internet at a significant discount. I also receive a few dollars worth of nutritional benefits.”
“Wow. You have it made then!”
“Yes. And I’m willing to support you, and even spoil you if you so desire.”
“My parents wouldn’t like you since you’re a high school dropout, living in the projects on disability, and they would think your writing is a waste of time, but I like you, a lot.”
“You’re a legal adult you know.”
“I know, that’s why I am here talking with you instead of cooped up in my parents’ house doing endless chores.”
“I feel very honored that you are here with me and I just hope and pray it continues.”
“You’re so sweet, and cute I know I already said it, but I can’t help it. You’re also very smart. My parents would find ways to keep us apart though unless you were like a strong catholic.”
“I’m not catholic but a Christian. I converted at the age of nineteen.”
“What were you before?”
“My family was catholic, but I saw right through it at an early age.”
“How did you convert?”
“I was employed in the shipyards and there was this attractive woman who was interested in me. It was a Friday, September 29, 2006, and she was planning to have me meet her after work. I won’t lie, she wanted to fornicate with me. I was quite excited in anticipation of that night. Needless to say, I was very distracted and feeling so overconfident that I attempted to lift a heavy piece of pipe all by myself and had crudely announced that I would be laying pipe that night to my buddies. As further I attempted to lift that miserable pipe, my back gave out and was instantly ruined. I was in such grievous pain that I was rushed to the hospital and was not able to visit that woman. When she learned how I was now disabled, she didn’t desire me anymore. I later found out that she has genital herpes, genital warts and God only knows what else. I required surgery on my back to repair the damage. While I was laid up at the hospital, the chaplain visited me, preached The Gospel to me, and subsequently prayed with me. I came to Christ right at that very moment and never looked. The surgery was successful since the doctors prevented the damage from spreading, but informed me of how I could never do any physical labor again.”
“Are you still a virgin?”
Zachary hung his head, almost in shame, then blushed then nodded.
“Don’t worry about it, I am as well!” Tiffany said as she kissed him, then continued, “By the way, our relationship will be very special!”
“My God, Tiffany you’re right! If I was ever content at being a twenty-five-year-old virgin, it is in this very moment.” Zachary paused, then continued, “I had been praying for years that God send me someone to love, and I must admit, He knew what he was doing when He sent you!”
“I know we just met, but I never felt this way about anyone the way I feel about you!” Tiffany confessed as she kissed him.
“The feeling is mutual. I mean I’ve been attracted to other females before, but, you remind me of a good character that which I would write about.”
“Aww. Maybe that’s why I like the stories you’ve told me so far, because I somehow identify with your characters, at least the good ones.”
“Thank you so much! I have fulfilled my literary purpose if I am provoking those very emotions from you!”
“If it wasn’t a sin, I would want your body. But not just your body, your entire being.” Tiffany’s face then sunk as she asked, “Are you even able to perform at intimacy though? I know your back is messed up.”
Zachary caressed her gently softly looking into her eyes and spoke, “I certainly am. The surgery was quite expensive but my company furnished the payments for it and the damage to the nerves that connect my spine to my reproductive organ was fully corrected. God had to have had a hand in it.” Zachary paused, kissed her, and then continued, “Now I think I know why!”
“In a very big way, I’m kind of glad no one else wanted you because that means I’ll have you all to myself,” Tiffany said as she grabbed him and stole a kiss.
Zachary’s face suddenly grew distressed.
Tiffany’s quickly noticed and then asked also with distress, “Did I say something wrong?”
Zachary gently held her and soberly replied, “No. You did not. However, God just spoke to me and said that we must needs to forego intimate relations until marriage. It’s almost as if I think God would reverse the healing to my nerves if we engaged in carnal relations before exchanging those vows.”
“You’re right. Then we would become like my parents and drift further and further apart.”
“May it never be!”
“We can wait until marriage, though.” Tiffany paused, then asked in a puppy dog voice, “Would you even want me to marry you though?”
“I most certainly would! And in the event you wish to work, I would only want you working in a career that is good for your soul!”
“Well, I only would want to be an artist, nothing else.”
“Then I fully support you in that endeavor! I dread the very thought of you slaving away in an occupation with which you’re not happy.” Zachary kissed her, then continued, “I’ll even purchase your art supplies.”
“Where will I stay, though? If my parents find out that we are together and you bought me those supplies, they will destroy all of it and then beat me.”
“Then they are brazenly violating your personal space, your sacred body, and your priceless dignity.”
There was a bright flash of lightning followed by a piercing thunder roll. Seconds later, the current supplying the mall with electricity was disrupted.
Tiffany shrieked in terror.
Zachary quickly drew a small flashlight from his pocket and calmly switched it on.
The bright LED lit up their immediate area as Zachary said with confidence, “I always try to be prepared, so I never leave home without one of these.”
A smile returned to Tiffany’s face as she said, “You’re so sexy!”
Zachary and Tiffany began to heavily kiss and pet each other with tremendous affection by the light of the flashlight.
Minutes later, the security guards and janitors were rounding up all the customers.
One guard was speaking into a bullhorn “A tornado warning has just been issued, please follow our staff to the center of the mall!”
Zachary and Tiffany complied with the request and followed the guards with the rest of the customers.
The sky was once overcast but was now dark as midnight as Zachary and Tiffany lay down against the wall, Zachary shielding Tiffany’s body with his by the light of his flashlight.
Tiffany looked at her phone and realized there was no signal. She put her phone away and closed her eyes as Zachary held her tightly.
The roaring of the winds intensified more and more.
Both Zachary and Tiffany trembled in fear.
Tiffany began to recite the rosary out loud as the winds grew louder and glass began to break. Many mall patrons and personnel alike began to scream in terror.
Zachary then prayed out loud, “Heavenly Father, I humbly ask that you quiet and stifle this horrid storm so that no one shall be harmed and that Your Name be Glorified above all names. Please protect all of us, according to Your riches and glory. Moreso, draw everyone present nearer to You, even unto salvation. I make these requests in that Precious and Powerful Name of Your Son Jesus Christ and hereby proclaim that He is indeed God come in the flesh! Amen…”
A moment passed, then the storm quickly died down.
Everyone stayed put but a great relief of anxiety came upon all of them.
Minutes later, an all-clear was declared.
Zachary kissed Tiffany, then said, “Praise God, that terrible storm is over and we weren’t harmed!”
The room was dark, so no one could identify exactly who had prayed out loud but there were rumors throughout the mall that God heard a young man’s prayers on behalf of them and that they were indeed spared.
Tiffany helped Zachary up from the floor, as she embraced him and pelted his face with many kisses.
Hand in hand they began to walk, by the light of his flashlight when they were instructed by mall personnel to leave because there had been some structural damage. Tiffany’s phone beeped and buzzed indicating that she had a new voicemail.
Zachary said, “I guess I’ll drive you home. Call me tonight though, before you go to bed.”
Tiffany nodded as they walked to his 2004 Chevy Cobalt.
The sinking sun was starting to break through the clouds.
He opened the passenger door for her, then kissed her as she stepped in.
Afterward, he stepped in on the driver’s side.
Both fastened their seatbelts when Tiffany said, “Let me check my voicemail, if it’s from one of my parents, you will see how horrible they are.”
She called her voicemail number, entered her PIN then activated her speakerphone feature.
There were two voicemails:
The first one was from her mom, “Tiffany Anne Taylor, where are you, little girl? You’re supposed to be at home doing chores while your dad and I are at work. It is unfair that you get to go out and have fun while mooching off of us as we slave away at our jobs. Your dad is going to tare up your hiney when he finds you, young lady. There will be other consequences as well for your rebellious behavior! Now get home immediately!”
The next one was from her dad, “Tiffany, this is your blank damn dad! I pay for your ****ing phone service so I expect you to answer when I *ing call. And where in the mother*ing hell are you? You’re not at home, that’s for sure and you’re probably laying out with some lazy stupid ****ing bum. When I find out who that good for nothing son of a ***** is I am going to blow his **** for brains out with my .357 Magnum, then pour gasoline on his useless body and set it ablaze while roasting some mother****ing marshmallows over it then I’m going to shove those ****ing marshmallows down your ****ing throat. After that, I’ll flush his worthless ashes down my filthy ****ing toilet that you didn’t clean. Then I am going to beat your ungrateful *** to a mother****ing pulp until it ****ing bleeds and I’ll burn all of your *blank* damn stupid paintings. Then I’m going to blast your stupid ****ing computer with my 10 gauge shotgun to make damn sure all of your filthy creations of yours are destroyed. Finally, I’m going to smash your ****ing TV and radio with my *blank* damn sledgehammer, because all you watch and listen to on there is pure ****ing trash that teaches you how to be a spoiled degenerate brat. I work way too ****ing hard for you to lay on your fat ****ing *** all blank damn day drawing those trashy pictures and ****ing around with those bums. You need to get a real ****ing job and stop living in this *blank* damn fantasy world. You will come home right this ****ing instant if you know what is *blank* damn good for you!”
Zachary had become pale as a glass of fresh milk.
Tiffany spoke, “Despite what my dad said in there, I’m still a virgin and deep down he knows it because he is possessive of my virginity.”
Zachary quickly collected himself and spoke, “I believe you. And just so you know, I would never use that sort of language in front of a woman or girl. However, we need to make a backup copy of these threatening messages in the case your dad terminates your phone service.”
“How can we do that?”
“I have a voice recorder app on my phone.”
At once, Tiffany played both of those messages again while Zachary recorded them to his phone’s internal storage.
Tiffany then spoke as tears were flowing profusely from her eyes, “I never want to go home again. I’m afraid of what will happen to me and worse what will happen to you.”
“We need to show this to the Justice of the Peace and have a restraining order placed against your dad. All of his guns will be confiscated and he will be immediately arrested if he comes near us. That is if you agree with doing so.”
“Yes. I am. I know what his temper is like and what he is capable of.”
Zachary looked at his watch which indicated 6:05. He then spoke, “Well we cannot see the Justice of the Peace until tomorrow morning, but it’s best we lay low.”
“Yes. I don’t want my dad to see us together.”
“Was he always so ill-tempered?”
“As far as I can remember.”
“Well I knew a lack of intimacy can make put anyone on edge, but Good Lord he takes it to the extreme.”
“I learned in my preteens that when a woman has a full hysterectomy, she loses all interest in sex and can become very cold-hearted. And when a man stops having intimacy, he is easily angered, by anything and everything. My parents never had any kids after me and I noticed that they were always angry at me. My older siblings said they used to be pleasant before I was born.” Tears rolled down Tiffany’s face once again and her voice broke as she said, “That means I’m an accident and they never wanted me.”
Zachary wiped Tiffany’s tears with his shirt as he gently rubbed her face and said, “You’re not an accident at all. I prayed for years that God would send you to me and now he has. You’re going to be a great artist one day and I just hope that you’ll have me by your side, maybe even using my stories for inspiration.”
“Yes, of course. I always thought I would end up marrying a man who is just like my dad, but you are so sweet and gentle. You’re nothing like him. I mean, you speak and write like the Puritan ministers I learned about in American English my Junior year and he speaks as if he were possessed by a legion of demons. I was hesitant to ask you if I could stay at your place, because, I still didn’t know what kind of man you were. However, when you said those prayers and God stopped that tornado, I knew you must have a clean heart because God wouldn’t answer the prayers of a man with wicked intentions. So, could I stay with you? I mean I have nowhere else to go.”
“I would be honored for you to stay with me. You can even have my bed and I will sleep on my futon in the living room.”
“How big is your bed?”
“Then you could share your bed with me. I wouldn’t mind.”
“Believe me, I tremendously desire to hold you while we slumber. I just don’t want to provoke the chastening rod of my Heavenly Father.”
“I’d rather be obedient to my God and therefore have you by my side for a lifetime than have a few fleeting moments of immense pleasure with you, only to later lose you.”
“You indeed are a good man, Zack. I’m so happy I found you!”
Zack smiled from ear to ear, then blushed until he was red in the face as he said, “Thank you, Tiffany. No one has ever told me that before.”
“Why don’t we go to your place? I am a little hungry though.”
“I was going to get us some corn dogs and cherry soda, but then the mall was damaged. What would you like?”
“Do you have any food at home?”
“I have a pound of ground beef, a jar of sauce, some pasta, some cheeses, herbs, and spices. How would you like spaghetti and meatballs from scratch?”
“I would love that!”
“Are you okay with eating meat on a Friday?”
“It doesn’t bother me.”
“Good, because that rule is nowhere in the Bible, rather, it was created by the roman catholic church for corrupt financial reasons.”
“I’m beginning to also think that catholicism is phony. When I started to pray the rosary, the winds became more violent, but when you prayed, the storm quickly calmed down.” Tiffany paused then said, “I want what you have.”
“Very well, let’s go to my place and I will explain it all to you while I prepare us some dinner.”
“I’m ready when you are.”
Zachary started his car, then began to pray, “Heavenly Father, please grant us safe travels. Please also open up Tiffany’s heart and ears for what I will be telling her shortly. Please also keep Tiffany and me together forever and may our relationship perpetually honor and glorify You. May we always treat each other with kindness, respect, and even reverence. May we always show each other affection and strive to be unequivocally faithful to one another. Protect us from all who wish to harm. I love you Heavenly Father and I make all of these requests in Your Son Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen. And thank You, Lord.”
“I love hearing you pray. You sound even better than the priest at my high school, who was so repetitive.”
Zachary blushed again and said, “Thank you. I just pray when God tells me to pray. He helps me find the words.”
With that, Zachary put his car in gear and then drove through the rain-soaked roads and highways until they came to his apartment complex on the outskirts of the city. They walked up his stairs and into his front door just as the sun was going down…