Chapter Twenty Six: The Dodge Viper
His name was Danny, and he gave me a toy car. It was a 1997 Dodge Viper GTS. It was my favorite car and I don’t know how he knew it, but he gave it to me while we walked into the forest on our way to The Grove. He slipped it into my hand as he brushed by me.
I saw him on the bus on the way to school the previous week; he talked to me about my violin and said he wanted to play the cello but wasn’t allowed to. I said I was sorry but if he wanted to, I would teach him the violin, and he could use mine. He started shaking when I said that; I don’t think anyone had ever been that nice to him. He had black under his eyes; I knew the things he saw at night that kept him from ever finding rest.
“Why would you do that?” he asked me. “I like helping people do things they really want to do.” He looked confused again and said, “But I don’t know you and what if I broke your violin.” I thought for a second and told him, “My name is Nate, so now you know me, and if you break it, it’s ok. I’ll tell my parents I fell getting off the bus; they’ll be mad, but that’s ok.” He didn’t say anything for a while; I was scared I’d made him mad because I told him I would lie. “My name is Danny. My dad won’t let me play in the orchestra; he says I have to play football and get angry. I like classical music and want to play Bach. But I don’t know what it takes to get a cello to sing like that.”
I opened up my case and took out my violin. I showed him the stickers under the strings and explained to him how I learned. I told him, “this is my bow; it’s made of horsehair.” I pulled out the wood-lined rosin from its felt-like cubby and let him rub it on the bow. His lips parted with a broad smile and he started to laugh. I said to him, “It’s my favorite thing to do in the mornings when I get on the bus. You can sit with me if you want to and I’ll let you do it instead.”
He said, “That’s nice of you but I can’t. My dad is going to be taking me on a trip next week, and I don’t know when I’ll be back. He says we have to go to my uncle’s house again to see my new cousin. I think she’s too little to remember, but it doesn’t matter.”
Sue, the bus driver yelled at a boy who was standing up as the bus had not come to a complete stop. When it finally did, we started standing up. “Thanks for sitting by me, Danny. I hope to see you tomorrow.” He nodded his head and smiled really big. “Thanks for letting me rosin your bow. I will try to get on the early bus if my sister doesn’t drive me.” He walked down the aisle as I put my violin back.
Two days later, I saw him walking towards The Grove, and my heart fell; I was so scared. I didn’t want him to be at this defiled space in the forest. I hated these places they took us to, and I hoped he would not have to see me on the portable altar where I had been the previous week. Winter solstice was coming, and I was so scared.
He nodded at me as we started to walk in; he jogged over like he was going to run past me, but slowed down just before he did.
He said in a whisper, “I got this for you last night at WalMart. Put it in your pocket and don’t pull it out till you get home tonight.”
I felt the touch of cold metal and plastic but slipped it straight into my pocket. I was scared it would fall out when they made me take my clothes off and put on my robe, but it didn’t. I felt it on my leg when I put my clothes back on later. I was so scared my master would see me smile, so I looked down at the ground.
…I will spare you the full details, which shattered my soul and Danny’s with it. I do this not for your sake but for his and to let her death not be wasted on keystrokes and ink. They killed his mother that night in The Grove, in twisted and terrible ways in front of his eyes and my own…
I give you a cautionary warning: the next paragraph is not pretty, but it is necessary. I left many pages of details out of this book, but a simple paragraph of questions from this moment says more than enough. It is the reality of these questions that disintegrate a soul, pulverizing it into dust. It is the surface level details of The Underworld where children are forced into the impossible world of cannibalism, murder, and black tomes of The Ancient Ones. To those who may be triggered, you can pass over this next paragraph and move on. These words are for those who never got an option to pass over the details of misery, violence, and death. There is even hope for healing from secrets as dark as these.
* * *
“What song do they play at your friend’s funeral? What do you do when the funeral was nothing more than monsters cleaning up their mess? What do you do when you have to watch them shovel pieces of the body of your friend’s mother into construction grade black trash bags that are thrown over shoulders, while the rest of the coven walk away in silence, stomachs freshly filled with her blood and flesh? Later burials will be in bathrooms, trashcans, or sinks where they will vomit her out into toilets, or on the side of the road. Will they burn her at The Family’s veterinarian’s office crematorium or in the funeral home’s incinerator, or just dump her in an unmarked pit dug by desensitized drones? Will they leave her in a car parked twenty miles in the middle of the desert with its windows cracked enough to let the bugs in to do the work but keep the scavenging critters out? Will they shovel her ashes down the drain or scatter them into the winds of forgotten dreams?”
The questions pummeled my mind as we slipped into the robotic march up the trail. I didn’t move on the way home, afraid they would see I had the slightest sense of hope. I was dropped off outside my parent’s house and slipped in through the window to my room. Bowser, my black lab, heard me come home and got excited but I told him, “be quiet,” and he went back into his Dogloo. I had a step stool I kept outside my room but brought it in with me. The house was silent; no one ever listened to what happened in my room. I waited a while before I got into my jammies.
No one moved or stirred, so I thought I was safe, and I slipped into my closet and hid behind the clothes just in case. I reached into my pocket and pulled it out. It was a Dodge Viper painted sparkly blue with two white racing stripes. It was sleek, gorgeous, and brand new; I could tell the wheels had never gone on the dirt or a track. I was so thankful; I had never been given such an excellent gift. It was my favorite car, but no one in my Family paid attention to things like this. I would get things I didn’t want for Christmas and my birthday as a way of getting my hopes up before shattering them again. But not this time; Danny got me the perfect gift, and it would get me through the winter solstice the following week. I would remember it when I was on the altar, and the master was on my back.
I would remember that my little car would be back at home in the hiding spot I made inside my bed frame. I’d hollowed out a tiny space with a hammer, awl, and chisel under the bedpost near my head. I hid it in there every morning, but I never pulled it out except when everyone was sleeping. I didn’t want my dad to see something I liked that he might take “until I behave.” He never did. In the quiet of the night I would slide it up and down my bed and on my arm. It was so smooth; not damaged by the desecrated dirt. A three-dollar car kept me breathing; I loved it because I knew it was a perfect gift. Danny saved my life, and I wanted to tell him “thank you.” I don’t know what happened to him; he never came back from his trip. I wanted to teach him the violin and watch him play Bach. I thought about stealing a cello from the practice room, but it was too big for me to get onto the bus without Sue ratting me out. I looked over at the cello every morning and watched Anne play it, and I thought of Danny. Nate didn’t know why we loved that cello but we thought of Danny and we wanted him to play it instead of her; she wasn’t terrific anyways. Danny would have been so much better, but we don’t know where he went.
We shift from the external memory to the view of our Little’s internal world. The door to our inner heart exploded open last week when we heard Brian Crain play A Walk in The Forest on cello and piano. Nate was dancing with his daughter in his arms, and Chelsea was laughing and swinging too. She giggled with us both, and we began to weep. The Holy Spirit brought us up then to see it. It was the first thing I’d ever seen since that night when Danny watched his mother die while I was shattering off a piece of my soul to survive the madness. The Lord let us come up and hear Naomi Grace, the Pleasantness of Yahweh, our undeserved favor, laugh and laugh. Oh, how we wept tears of joy and peace. My God, we’d never known a heart could feel so much joy. Who knew there could be relief like I was experiencing? Who could have known such wonders existed in this cruel world. What a miracle, what a gift this is.
It healed us in a moment in ways I cannot express. The Most High God knew exactly what we needed to get set free. We required joy, not sorrow or death. Back in our inner room, He loosed forth the angels who scattered the night; they drove out the darkness buried in every corner. They bound up the wicked ones and threw them into a heap at The Angel of the Lord’s pierced feet. We saw them tremble and shake; we saw terror in their eyes. THEY WERE AFRAID! THEY WERE TERRIFIED!
We sat and watched them weep and wail, begging for mercy and receiving none. Their sentence was severe; they went out screaming, “Too much is this punishment; this is not just.” Their mouths were stuffed with rags as the angels left to carry out their sentence. Fire shall consume them every morning, and ice at night. They shall be disquieted and contorted in piles and heaps, and in filthy rags will they wander in the outer darkness until The Day of Judgment comes.
My Littles ran to Him first; they were dressed in rags; some were naked under robes while others wore only their birthday suits. Blood was caked onto their shoulders, backs, and butts. Messiah Himself washed them, He wept over them, and His tears made them clean. The only begotten Son of God cleansed them, and their broken hearts were made whole. They didn’t have to walk in shame; they were born again in freedom, and finally, they knew no pain. He took their wounds and showed them His own. He showed us His mutilated back, neck, wrists, and arms. They had beaten Him mercilessly in ways we could not fathom. They tore the flesh from His body and with it His soul. They tore it asunder not just with whips and sticks but with the sin, guilt, and shame we were carrying.
He let us touch the flesh and feel it all. He showed us His side and told us He was pierced for us all. He said He paid for our sins and carried our shame. He said we didn’t have to fear the master’s hands anymore. He had broken their backs, and they were never the same. They were His to deal with now, and we knew His Name was Justice. All vengeance was His, and we knew it would be severe. We heard those devils wailing and nearly pitied them.
He looked at me as I watched this all and said, “Come here, my son.” I walked over with my eyes on the ground, not wanting to let my tears or nakedness be seen. I was so ashamed, and soon I tripped on the shackles that were wrapped around my feet. I fell into the dirt and began to tremble. He breathed out a single word, and everything changed.
I felt a waterfall erupt above me and fall onto my shoulders. It fell from the roof of our heart and tore the madness apart. It was living water of light, and it washed away the darkness, bloody soil, and filth. It washed us new, and soon we could feel the warmth of sunlight on our skin, and we opened our eyes.
Our internal room, once a grotto in the forest of death, had become a farm of peace where they grew hope, love, and joy. We saw trees of patience growing tall, and the fruit of kindness fell ripe onto the warm ground, its seed sinking into the freshly tilled fertilized soil where it sprouted even more. Joy was springing up from a well in the corner, a river of life flowed from the throne above this all. He who sat on it is The Lamb Who Was Slain. He is The Redeemer Jesus, The Christ, The Savior of the World, Savior of even the Little piece of our inner world.
He turned our fields of filth into furrows of faith. He planted a vineyard, which spread out beyond our vision. He came down from His throne and picked me up. My shackles were lost in waters that took away our shame. He carried me to the base of the tree where He set me down. My feet were still not used to walking on such purity or hope. Kindness was unfamiliar to us, and we knew it would take us some time to learn. He sat down next to me, dirtying His majestic robe. He scooped up the soil and set it in our hands.
He said, “This is for you, my son. I give it to you freely. I made you for this moment, not the one you were conceived in. I made you for kindness, grace, and hope. Look into your hands.”
The soil had turned to seeds of faith, hope, and love. He said, “I made you to sow them into the hearts of my people, the ones who are trapped in rooms like these.” We could see that one of the seeds was set apart. He said, “Do you see this one?” Holding the brilliant seed up to the light, I nodded yes. “This one is kindness. Do you know where it came from?” I told him no. His eyes grew wide as a smile spread upon His face, “It came from Danny and that little blue car. You grew this seed, Nathan, so long ago. You sprouted it when you were a child, not even ten years old. You planted this seed in Danny’s heart that morning on the bus.
He asked his sister to drive him to Wal-Mart the next morning, and she did. He took the money he’d been saving for a video game and bought this instead.” He held up our little car and set it in our hand. “That seed you planted grew in his heart, and it bore a pure fruit of kindness which he gave right back to you. That tree is still thriving today, and I will reunite you with Danny, this I promise. He does play the cello now, and he is spectacular. He brings tears to My eyes when he sings out the chorus and shouts its melody. It is a sweet fragrance, one I so delight in. You will get to hear him play for you and you will weep together. Because I am faithful, Nathan, and I have never left you. I never left you alone to wither and rot. I do not leave my gardens unattended even though The Serpent told you otherwise. I am not one who is far off and forgotten; I am The God of Comfort, and my Word is Truth.
“Hear me now and listen: nothing will stop the things I came to do. I came to set the captives free and to bind up the broken-hearted. I am not afraid of your brokenness; I let them shatter me to pieces. I allowed them to beat me on the whipping post. Do you know I took their beatings and refused to resist or flee? It is because I saw Danny and you in that grove wanting to vomit and die. I knew you would need someone who could understand your sorrow and shame. I became shame for many including you, Nathan, and for Danny, so you wouldn’t have to stay in that awful place.”
“I knew Danny would need someone to come alongside him and help his fingers find the notes. I knew he would need the rosin on his bow. You were the rosin, Nathan, and I was the bow; he will play before my Heavenly Throne forever, and you will marvel and dance with your daughter and wife. You will lift up praises with my angels, and we will laugh together; because I am Redemption and My Word is true. You can trust me always, Nathan, no matter what you went through. I am Salvation, and I came back for you. I refused to stay with My Father but left Him and took on flesh, needing to suffer these things for you and the others whose hearts are broken, tattered, and covered in scars. I wanted to, and I would do it a thousand times over even if it was just to rescue you two.”
“Your hearts are still beating, and now they beat with mine. Walk in freedom, my son, and lift up your notes of praise before me, for I drink them in with delight. You are my beloved son, and I fight for you now. You do not need to fear those masters’ hands because they are broken and overlooked, and I will grind them into dust; they will be scattered into the lake of fire and forgotten by all. You will dwell richly on pastures of peace by streams of living water forever, and none will take my gifts from you. They are freely given to you; may you receive them all now.”
We held onto him for hours, and as we wept and told him our hurts, His tears fell in buckets on us, washing away the years of sorrow, screaming, and death. He took our burdens, every one we had. He held them all on that cursed tree and let us have His robes of righteousness instead; a great exchange of His life for our death, a true story of salvation and grace. “I thank you, Father Yahweh, for saving us today.”