I See Her Face
Damnation books released my horror/thriller novella, Intricate Entanglement, on March 1st. Every time I’m asked about the mentally ill folks in the book, a certain old lady’s face flashes in my memory.
Few years back, while attending training in Manhattan, I stayed in a hotel close to the training center. It was a short walking distance, less than ten minutes, for sure. Cold fall wind made me jam my hands into the pockets of my thick jacket, but I always walked that way; alone, minding my own business. One day, I noticed a woman standing in my path; I veered to the side to avoid her. She moved and blocked me again, so I lifted my gaze. She was one of the homeless people, frail, old, her oily hair in desperate need of a meeting with a shampoo, her long dirty nails begged to be clipped. On top of all that, she reeked. Use your imagination here, all kinds of BOs hovered about her. Her eyes were trained on me.
“You think you’re better than me?” she crooned.
I looked around me in bewilderment, was she talking to me?
“Yeah, you.” Now she shouted more than talked. “I’m talkin’ to you, high and mighty corporate bitch.” She literally spat the last two words at me. People moved away from us. I also noticed the thin stick of wood in her hand, too thin and filthy to be called swagger stick, yet it matched it in thinness. I was scared. Imagine to be beaten by her in front of my colleagues.
“I don’t think that,” I said, and I meant it. I never noticed her before, though she had noticed me plenty, obviously.
A man passing by whispered to me. “Ignored her, she’s insane. The more you talk the more you aggravate her. She’s nuts.”
Despite my fear, I was taken aback by his words. People knew what she was, how she was, and yet she roamed the streets. God knows where she slept, how she ate, and what she ate. I looked at her again. She could be someone’s grandmother, somewhere where she could be cared for.
Okay, it might have been my mood, I was in one of those melancholic ones, but I felt bad for her. She must’ve sensed it, for she narrowed her eyes. “Now you’re feelin’ superior to me. Too bad, I’m gonna beat ya so hard…”
I didn’t move, didn’t even blink. It was mostly fear of embarrassment than pain. The jacket was thick enough to ward the latter, unless she went for my face. By now, we had reasonable crowd around us.
My mind buzzed with a word she used, one that stood out in the middle of her threat. Superior. This woman used to be someone educated, or at least I hoped so.
“Listen to me,” I said slowly, “I don’t know you, you don’t know me. Let’s leave it that.”
She cackled. “Ya scared?”
I nodded. I was, no use denying it
“Then that’s good enough for today. You may go to hell now.” She gestured, allowing me to walk on.
It took every muscle in my body, every will I ever possessed, to walk and not run the hell out of there. She had said “today,” she was planning on more encounters. Unless I wanted to be late for the training sessions by taking the longer route (half of the other roads were blocked), I was going to meet her again during my remaining ten days of training.
She became a fixture on my path, early mornings and late evenings when I come out of the office, yet she never approached me again. Instead, she walked parallel to me, watching me, that stick in her hand.
One day, while on my way back to the hotel, I felt a pull on my handbag. I was warned about pickpockets and my first reaction was “Heeey!”
Till today, I’m not sure whether the man was a thief or not, but the loud WHOOSH that descended on him, and his subsequent yelp of pain were real alright.
My knight with grimy wooden stick had come charging to my rescue. “You okay? Huh?” She asked, the whole while jerking the stick in the direction of the fleeing man, exposing whatever remained of her yellow teeth at him.
I convinced her that I was okay.
We never spoke after that, even though she still guarded my daily trips to the office. The time came when my training was over and I was leaving for the airport, it was midday, and I didn’t see her. I wanted to say something nice to her, maybe even give her money. She didn’t seem high and there was no alcohol smell in the miasma of her odors. I had a feeling, however, that I would have offended her if I offered her anything.
I think she developed the tough act to protect herself, but that didn’t rule out that she had some mental problems as well.
She didn’t belong on the streets, she should have been somewhere warm with a full tummy and washed hair.
This is a true story, one that has nothing to do with the stories in Intricate Entanglement except for the fact that they remind me of her. I hope she’s in a better place now.
Intricate Entanglement takes place in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. These are stories of the patients, each told by them. Seven or eight stories in total—depending how you look at it—that touch on such topics like growing old, sexual preferences, and obsessions. The central character, Doug Pinkham, is an opportunistic reporter who got more than what he bargained for.
Find out more about Intricate Entanglement here: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?
Or watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
Naomi, thanks for the opportunity to guest blog on your journal and to share this experience with your readers.
Su Halfwerk writes in the horror and paranormal romance genres. From a tender age, the written word left a strong impression on her, later on terrifying, blood-chilling books became the object of her interest. Su’s style in horror combines shuddery terror with elements of surprise; some would even call it an enigmatic twist. In the world of paranormal romance, she transforms the desire to scare into a quest to seduce and tantalize.
When not writing, Su is designing book trailers for herself and other authors.
Intricate Entanglement is Su’s latest release from Damnation Books, a mix of a thriller with an overlay of maddening darkness.
You can find Su online in any of these places: