Contraband

By
Clouds covered the skies, offering a cushioning darkness to the night. No bird sung out at this hour, and no animal caterwauled in the distance to disrupt the tranquil moment framed on a suspended veranda. No movement took place, the air stood still as if waiting, waiting for something just out of reach, some ideal that just might be levitating a little beyond the chilled railing of the balcony. All was poised, unmoving at this deathly hour, mist barely forming on fleshy lips, creating the illusion of life. But to the contrary, all the guests at this party were dead, dead to the world around them, stuck in a state of intoxication so deep that the possibility of other forms of life eluded them.
Mr. Ecklestrom, the man who lived across the street, lay motionless on the table, every muscle in his body frozen. His meritorious wife who he accompanied to the party was slumped half naked against the railing nearby, her chest obliviously unveiled to the vacant stares around her. Even the server failed to evade the slumber that enveloped this house on Hosseberg Lane. If in the unlikely event that one of these guests returned to consciousness, perhaps if it was Mr. Ecklestrom himself, he would have seen the server with his head resting on his arms, lost to the state that he himself prescribed.
However, among the immobile guests, and the mist that rose slowly from their slumped mouths, something began to move. A small boy stretched his legs and began to crawl across the hooked carpets, obstinately traversing the piles of clothes that lay discarded at the entrances to bedrooms. Rooms that earlier in that night might have been privy to behavior that was questionable at best, behavior that one day might lead to another small form crawling across these hooked rugs that represented such an excessive display of affluence. But this particular form moved onward, peering through half empty glass bottles of contraband as a realization slowly snuck into his fertile mind and took root. This realization was that he was alone, alone in this world, alone ‘till morning and that the possibility of daylight arriving innocently was already lost, lost among the clothes cast away and bottles broken.
In that split second, such consciousness was too explosive for his fertile mind, perhaps just too much to take in at one time. The young child was so overloaded with the inconceivable nature of his predicament that he began to cry, cry and then weep. Accompanying this mournful weeping was a bloodcurdling wail, a wail that implied a foreseeable end of the world could be imminent but that it could very well persevere through even such an apocalypse. For all that the unconscious beings in the immediate vicinity were concerned, it could have been the end of the world and it simply would not have made a difference.
For these formations of flesh and bone that upholstered the furniture and accented the architecture of this house on Hosseberg Lane cared naught about the livelihood of one little child, a child so small that he could hide comfortably in the family’s liquor cabinet. In truth, this child had hid in this family’s liquor cabinet, trying to remove himself from the obscenely horrifying sights, trying to hide forever. In reality, he only managed to remain unnoticed until a booze-thirsty lout intruded upon his enclave, shattering the young one’s hopes of stealing away, his hopes of sealing his eyelids against the intrusion of such images. The man barged in, wrenching the liquor cabinet doors open in a tormented struggle for more. Eyes were bloodshot from inebriation and the mouth twisted, funneling spittle down a flushed cheek. A stabbing pain of recognition ran through the young child’s body as he realized that the fool who was befouling the sanctity of his hiding place was precisely whom this child was hiding from: his father.
No time was available for thought though; his father struck out with his hand, groping for the substance that he so eagerly desired. Near empty bottles clattered and shattered, broken glass showering the child. He was oblivious though, oblivious to his huddled son. Obstinately, the father searched for what he believed to be simply elusive contraband. However, instead of his hand finding that which he craved, it connected with his son’s face, nails gouging crevices into soft flesh, which in turn spouted furrows of blood across the boy’s pale complexion. The pain was overwhelming, hope and passion crusting over to leave behind a withered and calloused shell.
That time of the night was past now though, having slipped away into the ether. The child had made his way down the hallway to the veranda, and was standing stock still, alone with his pain. He gazed through the accordion doors that barred his entrance to the veranda, just one prism pane separating him from his hope. Hands and cheeks pressed up against the refractive glass in his desire for what lay beyond, leaving dark smears and tears in their wake, adulterating the pristine vision before him.
Through the haze of crimson on the windowpane before the child, the wonders of the veranda remained oddly framed in the moon’s glow, the light seeming to accumulate on one elegant body in particular, shimmering as it landed upon the flowing hair of the battered boy’s mother. A halo of light illuminated her graceful body so carefully arranged in a Victorian chair, her white dress spilling over the simple armrests to land with a sigh on the oak floor. The virtue of the scene was stripped of its purity as the child noticed the broken bottle at her feet, having smashed when it slipped from her limp fingers earlier in the night. That was after she had gone looking for her son, stumbling through empty corridors, foyers, and bedrooms, searching. The young child could only forgive her, for he realized by now the nature of the intoxication that had taken hold of this house. His eyes saw only that this inundation of contraband was indiscriminate, thrusting even those beholden in light into its tenacious grasp.
Of what remained unknown to this child now was the question clinging to his pained mind like the ivy creeping up the facade of this house on Hosseberg Lane. Perhaps this question should never have been asked; perhaps it should have been tossed out with the shattered glass and clothes left behind. Instead, the young boy pondered what no one had before pondered in this particular house: Why? The answer eluded the young boy as tears ran down his face, attempting to cleanse the deep wounds. Unfortunately, these wounds were too deep for the pain to be merely cast away; no matter how many tears flushed the gouges, the pain was only exacerbated, deepening as the flesh scabbed over.
Neither pain nor sobs came to a halt. The young child fell to the cold stone floor, tears and blood pooling below him. Escorting this weeping to the veranda was a piercing wail, reminiscent of its predecessor. This wail implied that an apocalypse was indeed nigh, but for all that the unconscious beings on the veranda were concerned, it truly did not make a difference. The wail persevered, its feverish pitch sending tremors up the glass pane, threatening the barrier between painful innocence and intoxicated ignorance.
It didn’t continue on forever though, it ended as the child finally collapsed. The young boy did not collapse from exhaustion or some related condition, the boy had given in. Amid the furor of his cacophony he had reached out, clumsily at first and then with intention. His hand grasped a half-empty bottle of contraband that had been prematurely discarded and timidly brought it to his trembling lips. He let the liquid flow into his mouth, desiring solace. The respite was barely noticeable but the boy wanted more, wanted to feel the tangibility of peace. Despite the acrid taste, his hands brought more to his lips while he assured himself that peace was not far off. However, the child didn’t feel any resemblance of peace before his eyes closed. He did not feel sunshine on his face, the warmth of his head lying gently in his mother’s lap, or even the tranquility of a hug. Instead, he lost control of his body, his head crashing into the crystalline glass. The pane shattered at once and the boy’s cataleptic body tumbled through the broken pane and onto the oak floor beyond, tainting the silent rapture of the veranda. With this, the sleeping beauty awoke. She yawned, blinking away the unwanted dreariness as the first signs of morning diffused across the sky, unveiling her bloodied son lying comatose as a faint mist painfully crawled out from between his lifeless lips.





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