THE TEACHER – PART 2
She held my hand as I drove down the main street. Her mahogany brown eyes shifted to a light brown color as the sunlight shone into her face through the passenger side window. “Seriously baby,” she flicked her hands through her hair as she stared curiously into the visor’s mirror. “Do you like it? I think she cut it waay too short. I mean, look at it.”
She turned her head to the side. I glanced at her with my face scrunched up like an old man sucking on a lemon, “well… now that you mention it…”
She pouted, “see, I knew it! Ugh!” Her arms folded over her chest like a napkin as she poked her bottom lip out. Her pulchritude was unmatched, even in her childish display. “Turn around! We are going back!”
I stifled my laugh as she sat in her seat. Her eyes narrowed in my direction. I couldn’t keep up the charade any longer as I blurted out a sea of laughter like waves crashing into the shore. “Baby, you know I am only kidding. Your hair is lovely, sweetheart. I like the short haircut. You’ve got like…” I quickly looked in her direction, then refocused on the road, “a Halle Berry type thing going on. And you know how much I love Halle.”
“Gee, thanks. I’m glad that my haircut reminds me of my husband’s crush.”
“Baby,” I said, smiling as I reached for her hand, “if Halle were on the side of the road right now, I wouldn’t stop for one second.” She pushed her lips to the side of her mouth as if to show that she didn’t believe me. “Alright. Maybe I would ask what was wrong, but that’s it.”
“Yeah, that better be it.”
I looked in the rearview mirror. My son sat in his toddler seat as he flew a toy airplane through the air, blowing his lips to mimic the sound of a jet engine. “Jr, who are we picking? Mommy or Halle?”
“Mommy!” he shouted forth with a snaggle-toothed smile. His mother’s feminine features dominated his young, bright face. With each blink, long eyelashes fluttered like butterfly wings on the edge of his eyelids. A tiny cluster of beauty marks gathered together on his right cheek, and the natural arch of his brows looked as though they were professionally done. The only features he received from me was my broad, flat nose and full lips. He had my attitude wrapped up in the softness of his mother’s countenance; and for that, he would know how to get away with murder.
“See,” I said confidently, “there are two votes for mommy. None for Halle.”
“Yeah, you two will say anything while I am in the car with you.”
“You know what?” I wrestled the phone out of my pocket, “that’s it. I’m going to snap a picture of you right now and–”
She laughed as I pulled my phone out and aimed it in her direction. “Baby, keep your eyes on the road! You are going to wreck!” She lightheartedly pushed my phone away from her.
My son increased the volume of his jet engines, “vroooom, vroom!”
“Babe! Stop, now. You need to keep your eyes ahead!”
I glanced out the windshield. “Baby, there is not a car anywhere near us, and besides, I have eyes all over my head. Now, let me take this picture so I can post it on Facebook and let everyone else be the judge between you and Halle.”
“No! Listen, I’ll take your word for it! I won! I look better than Halle, ok? No pictures needed. Now, would you please keep your eye on the road? Please?”
I winked at her, then slid my phone in the compartment between the two front seats. “Alright. As long as I got my point across.” We eased to a stop at a red light. She grabbed my hand and leaned across my seat. Moments later, I felt her lips brush against my flesh like a soft spring breeze. “I love you, Mr. Jones.”
“I love you more, Mrs. Jones.”
The light just beyond us flickered from red to green. I glanced at Junior in the backseat. His airplane flew high in his right hand while he grabbed another fighter jet with the other. “Baby,” my wife said as I slid my foot onto the gas. Her hand moved to her belly at the same time, patiently, as if time was controlled by her motion. “I think I am pregnant.”
I chuckled as our car inched into the intersection slowly like we were pulling a ton of bricks behind us. “Well,” I looked in her direction. Just beyond her window, an SUV headed straight for us like a flaming dart from the pit of hell. My eyes widened as if I was trying to see the whole world at once. My words caught in my throat like a piece of meat going down the windpipe. I reached for her arm, knowing that I had to pull her away from the point of contact. “My God!”
I yelled out, but before she could react, the SUV plowed into her side of the vehicle. Instantly, I blacked out.
I woke up in sweltering, pitch-black darkness. Sweat mingled blood dripped from my brow as my chin brushed against the top of my chest. My hands were tied behind my back, and I could feel the wires slicing through my wrists. My body weight shifted the position of the uneven chair I sat in. “Rise and shine.” His voice was deep and fragile as the heart of man. His wooden cane knocked against the concrete floor as he stepped closer to me. “Take that off his head.”
Moments later, one of his soldiers removed the dark hood from over my skull. I squinted my eyes as the high voltage light bulbs lit the room a fluorescent white as if I was on the outskirts of heaven. But I knew this was nothing like heaven and every bit like hell. On the ground to the right, blood splatter decorated the concrete like exploded paintballs. Various soldiers lined the walls, dressed in fatigues with their fingers sitting on triggers of automatic rifles aimed directly at me. Black masks covered their faces as if they were scared to show me who they were.
Suddenly, a cold, hard fist smashed into my cheek with the weight of a bag of bricks. Two more shots connected to my jaw in rapid succession. The contact shot my face to the left and sent a spring of blood bubbling in my mouth like a fountain. I spat out a thick glob of blood-soaked saliva. It dripped slowly from my mouth like a molasses chain watch before it burst onto the cement. I used my tongue to taste the residue. It let me know that I was still alive.
“So, here we are. This is what happens to degenerate leaders, Mr. Isaiah Jones?” The man with the wooden cane planted himself in a silver folding chair that was positioned right in front of me. With my head down, I slowly lifted my eyes towards him.
I spoke with every bit of resilience that I possessed. I had been in situations like this before, and there wasn’t a time that I hadn’t made it out. “Where is Seven?”
“Seven?” He laughed. “He wants to know where Seven is at. His precious protégé. The one that would rather die with you than fight with us.” He clapped his hands once. “Look up,” he said, smacking my thigh with his cane. I gradually shifted my attention to the right. The bright light beamed down onto me like I was center stage. I waited a few moments until my eyes adjusted.
A thick glass window showed the inside of the adjacent room. I squinted my eyes to get a better look. I saw the faint image of a body swaying back and forth like strange fruit from a pole. My cheekbones gyrated inside of my mouth. My fist tightened like knots. “Seven?” he laughed. “Yeah, we had to teach that boy a lesson. Turns out, he wasn’t as much of a killer as you expected.” He leaned closer towards me. The scent of Cuban cigars nicked at my muzzle. “Guess you didn’t train him as good as you thought.”