And I bow as I step onto the dance floor, and the strings strain, and the bodies around us move. Bodies of abusers and saviors. Rose dances with Olsen, Destiny with Tiger. The music plays, we all twirl, and I take each of the next stories out onto the floor. The waltz is the most proper. The waltz has the arms wide, the circle, the spinning. The waltz doesn’t pull in close and breathe in the ear like I do with my wife. The waltz doesn’t get “tangled up and tango on.” The waltz holds back. It looks into the eye, holds at a distance, and the waltz appraises. The waltz appreciates.
There’s a scream across the battlefield as a hundred thousand warriors of bullies and abusers roar hatred in my direction. The Round Table lines up behind me. They bang sword on shield. You are about to read about the women standing along my side. They form the front ranks now. And when the horns blow and I collide with my abusers, it will be The Shieldmaidens waltzing with my enemies and dancing beside me as the blood and the hate flies.
I introduce you now to the women of my life and my past. I introduce you now to The Shieldmaidens.
She came back. After her visit during my grandpa’s heart attack, she came back. She wanted to visit, and she wanted to show her friend what she had found in her cousin.
I’m going to get to that. But first I have to show you the way her first visit ended so we can truly see the depth of depravity that my family often dips to.
We were never allowed to go to the hospital when my grandpa would have one of his heart attacks. I talked about this before, but they thought it would upset us too much to see him with tubes in his body. Said he looked terrible and that he didn’t want to see us.
My mother liked to shield us from things like this all of our lives. No funerals. No hospitals, all of the things that kids need to see and understand were held back from us because they made her uncomfortable.
So the adults went to see my grandpa every day and I was left to watch the kids. There was my cousin, Aunt Honey’s son, Little Man and his younger sister, and his other younger sister. There was Grasp, who was only eleven at the time, and me. Well I was expected to babysit, which of course was not a problem, but this was my entire week.
One night after I had the kids all day, Lioness and Tigress come back to the house around five in the evening. They had to leave for home the next day and they wanted a calm night. When they got there, we hung out for a while, but soon Teddy called.
“Hey man, let’s play DnD,” he said.
“Can’t. Gotta watch my cousins and my brother. They have been here all day, all week, and I have at least another few hours of them.”
“Well, do you need reinforcements?” Teddy said.
“What do you mean?”
“We are good with kids. Let us come over and help out a little.”
So they came over. It was Teddy, Jacob and one of their friends. They came by and walked in, and the kids kinda stared at them for a while. They didn’t know what to make of them. Jacob grabbed a video tape of Disney Sing Along Songs and popped it in.
The kids pulled back until the first song came on and Jacob started dancing and singing. Soon all the little kids were up and in front of the TV dancing and singing.
The older kids just looked at Teddy and he said, “We need three pieces of paper and three pencils.” He pointed at Grasp. “You can do that, right?”
Grasp nodded with wide eyes. All of my friends amazed him, and Teddy was one of his favorites. He rushed off and came back with the supplies he needed. “We are going to draw a ninja. Get your paper, get your pencil, and do what I do,” Teddy said.
The other guy looked at me. “When was the last time you ate?” he asked.
“Don’t know. They have been keeping me pretty busy, and after six days of this, I am pretty wired.”
“I’ll make you something.” He went into the kitchen and soon had a large potato. “You like potatoes?”
“Cool, I’ll make you a stuffed potato.
“What do I do?”
“Sit and cool your ass.” He smiled at me and waved a hand across the room. “We got this.”
Lioness and Tigress came out and met the guys, but they didn’t stay. They were tired and emotionally spent after the week at a hospital, and they went back to my mother’s room, laid on the bed and stared at the ceiling in silence.
My potato wasn’t quite done when my Aunt Breezy came to pick up her three. She saw Jacob dancing with the kids. Saw Teddy teaching an art class and the other guy microwaving me a potato, and she grabbed the kids and ran off.
It took her ten minutes to get to my grandma’s house where my uncles were. It took them seven minutes to speed to our house. Uncle Wrath, Uncle Ball, and Aunt Honey walked in and stared. They looked pissed and I just could not see why.
Uncle Wrath runs to all three of the rooms. He throws them open like he is expecting to walk in on an orgy, and he yells at Tigress to get in the car when he finds no one doing anything suspicious. She grumbles but obeys. He yells at Lioness to do the same and she tells him no. Finally he goes back into the living room.
Now Aunt Honey has been getting her son’s stuff together looking up at me like I just committed some great sin I can’t understand. She keeps looking at me like I’m a demon and she quickly rushes her son for the door.
Uncle Ball makes eye contact with me a few times. He has been standing at the door the whole time, and every time I look at him, he shakes his head like, “I can’t believe how bad you fucked up.”
Wrath comes out of the back of the house and yells, “I want everyone that doesn’t live here out of the house. That means you,” he points at Teddy. “You,” he points at Jacob. “And you.” He points at the other guy. “All out right now!”
“What is going on here?” I ask. I looked at both men because Aunt Honey has made it to the car by now with her son.
“This is not happening,” Uncle Wrath said.
“Nothing is happening. My friends came to help me out. What is the issue?” I said.
“Not with my girls here!” he shouts.
Tigress comes out. He shoves her out the door and slams it behind him.
Now in case you don’t see what happened here, I will lay it all out for you.
I was expected to watch my cousins all week from morning to late at night without complaint. Which I did. When Tigress and Lioness got to the house that was no problem. But when three other guys showed up, the assumption was that I was letting my friends run a train on my cousins. Uncle Wrath and Uncle Ball assumed that I would hand my cousins over to my friends.
How did they get to that conclusion? I’ll let you imagine.
Rose got home and was furious. She called Teddy and apologized, told him he could come back over if he wanted to. He politely declined.
Tigress heard about it on the ride back to Uncle Wrath’s house and by the time she got there, she was done. She packed her things. Called my mom for a ride. And she stayed that last night with us. The visit ended. Everything was fine. My uncles didn’t talk to me for a few weeks. Then it was all over.
But that left an impression on me. They walked in, saw a guy dancing and singing with the little kids. Saw a guy cooking for me. Saw a guy giving a drawing lesson and their first thought was “Sex Party.”
Gonna leave them now. Not going back to that. But I wanted to show that to you so you could draw your own conclusions. Leave you with questions I have had for years.
Lioness and I had connected during that trip, and when she got home, she was there for about a year before she came back down to visit with a girlfriend of hers.
We will call the girl Carnival. She was fun, if not a little sassy, bordering on bitchy. But it was all in fun, so I went with it. She walked in a skeptic and looked at me with an appraising eye.
Lioness and Carnival hung out with Rose and Mumble for a while before we ducked into my bedroom and they dropped into my bed, leaned against the wall and stared at me.
“So Carnival, what’s your story? I would love to hear anything you want to tell me. Are you still in school? Do you have a guy? What do you do?”
Lioness shook her head. “Nope. She is graduated. Her boyfriend is an asshole. She has a job she doesn’t like. We are not here for that,” Lioness said.
I looked at her with questioning eyes. “Then why are you here?”
“Do it,” Lioness said.
“Talk. Do that thing you did when I was here last.” She shook her head and waved her hand around. “Do your thing.”
Shadow has no idea what she is talking about.
“Tell us about Draconic, Jesse.” She smiled. “Tell us about Precious.”
Out came Artist. “Oh you want me to talk.”
“I told her about you and she wanted to meet you. Now,” Lioness waved her hand in my direction. “Go.”
So we talked. Artist talked about Draconic. Guardian talked about Mary. Shadow about Precious. Artist came out to tell stories for a while. Ronin talked about a stick fight he had gotten into with this cute girl’s boyfriend. Talked about how he tried to crush his liver but the kid lived. We all did our thing, and as the alters shifted out constantly and spoke in different voices and different vocal patterns, the two girls watched.
“Didn’t I tell you?” Lioness said.
“Yeah,” Carnival said. “He is fucking magical. How do you do that?”
I looked at her and blinked. Out came Servant.
“How do you just do all that?” Carnival asked.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Servant said. “But I need to talk to you about Destiny.”
“Ah yes, Destiny,” Lioness said. “I had almost forgotten about her. Tell me about her eyes, Jesse. Tell her about her smile. This is a good one,” she said, looking at Carnival. “You’re going to love this one. This one is completely different.”
I was asked by Carnival if I was having sex with all of these girls. We all told her no. We were still a virgin.
“I can’t see how that is possible,” Carnival said.
Lioness rolled her eyes as Artist jumped to the surface.
“You have a car?” he said.
“I do,” Lioness said.
“Let’s go to the bridge.”
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep.