How Johnny had drawn it, nobody knew. How it looked so real was equally unanswered. It might have appeared as if the Sistine Chapel had lost one of its angels to the cement platform at Lexington Station … if it had not been beyond that … but it was that and more.
Those standing there found it hard to believe it as art, as their eyes chased back up the station to where the stretcher had disappeared, having been fooled into believing that the body bag had sprung a hole in it and left the body behind, even with the blouse of the victim, who seemed to lie there, clearly no longer stained with blood. Johnny, ignorant to the crowd, grinned wholeheartedly at the specter he’d drawn, not because of what he’d done, but because he sensed the woman’s soul … and how she, Johann, suddenly felt recognized, as for the first time the members of the police force stared more fully at the image of her, which was truly so much like her ghost if it couldn’t be her body. Some brave enough, either not trusting their own eyes or trusting them too much, approached the almost illuminated apparition while others stepped away, and swiped their hands through the air, above and surrounded by the chalk line, expecting to find it occupied by the victim or the victim’s cast, but found none of her or it there. The sleeping image permeated the air like a hologram, which was impossible, but there it was. How one could ever do this was one thing, but how Johnny had done it with crayons … how anyone could ever do it with just crayons … only children’s crayons … was altering. And besides that … if that could even be put aside to look elsewhere … though he’d drawn the perfect portrait of her, which was amazing in itself, her body, which flowed from that, flowed over a cement platform that Johnny’s crayons had never once even touched. The only thing that remained, the only thing which faintly resembled anything Johnny was previously believed capable of doing … was the crude chalked halo … and outline.
Barrister’s head, as if drawn by a leash, which was attached to the orbs in his sockets, like an owner, who on walking his dogs finds his wild dogs, to the contrary, walking him, rocked back and forth between the chief and Johnny and the victim’s whatever it was, playing “Catch up” with his eyes, which shifted from one to the other and then the next before the rest of him. The chief’s eyes, however, were stationary, while everything else belonging to him appeared to inflate as he took in too much wind without releasing any.
“Wh-what are you, Johnny?” Barrister demanded, fully alert of him, and with his arm stretched out in front, leaving a cushion to respond to whatever might come next, approached Johnny. Johnny’s eyes had rolled to the top of his head in confusion, as if the answer might be taped to his brows.
“Now that’s a strange question,” the chief replied, having been reminded by Barrister’s remark to breathe again … but having now exhaled too much, his nose sniffed in little pockets of air between words to balance the scale. “What … have you found God … detective?”
“Was he lost?” Barrister replied. “You refute beings from other planets, do you?”
“Oh … oh, I see.” The chief smiled. “Johnny’s an alien then?”
“Better than your messiah.”
“Cause you ain’t right.”
“I’m not right?” the chief said, and with a touch of mirth on his face, turned to the others, exchanging gazes with them as if they were all in on a joke, though their faces appeared more blank, and then turned back to that ethereal doppelgänger. “Will you look at that? It’s beautiful. Who cares if I’m right? Who cares if you’re wrong? Will you just look at it? It’s beautiful. It’s a God sent miracle.”
“A bloody miracle is supposed to be a good thing,” Barrister remarked, “and that’s yet to be seen before you tell me God did it.”
“Whatever we do, we don’t do alone,” the chief said. “You must confess, Barrister, you no longer see Johnny here as a weak-minded fool anymore. Now do you?”
And that’s good.”
“It’s a good warning,” Barrister quickly interjected, to make no mistake that he didn’t trust in the least any of this or them. Barrister’s scowl and the chief’s glare melded together and built a wall between them, and it was at this impasse when Johnny spoke up, “Detective?”
Barrister nearly jumped at Johnny’s words, but quickly raised his coat off of his shoulders as a decoy to conceal it, and straightened his collar. “Wha-what?” There was a slight tremor to his coat, but not as much as was going on below. “What?” Barrister barked, and tried to meld another wall, placing it between him and Johnny this time, but there was no mortar coming from Johnny’s end, and so the half-baked barrier only buckled and cracked … and fell over.
“I’m … I’m sorry about before,” Johnny said. “You weren’t going to hurt her.”
“What? What are you jack rabbits? Well I know that,” Barrister snapped. “But why do you now suddenly know that? Did it just finally dawn on you that she’s dead?”
“No,” Johnny replied, “I know that.” and then inadvertently lost himself in a vision of bunny rabbits bounding about, dropping eggs.
“Then … then what?” Barrister snapped impatiently, and was pleased as hell to see that this time it was Johnny who had jumped.
“What?” Barrister leaned into him as if he’d won momentum, as if for some misguided reason he’d gained strength, somehow seeing Johnny as up against the ropes. “What? What?” He jabbed relentlessly. “What?” Even the little dog could appear more vicious if he didn’t let the bigger dog take a bite.
Johnny held his ground, but the panic in his eyes looked like he didn’t want to be there. It was almost as if something was holding him, preventing him from retreating. “She … she trusts you,” Johnny answered, followed by a gasp of air he’d involuntarily denied himself, and when he had, at once gazed at the image as if it was to blame for his capture there … and then … he could move again.
“What?” Barrister persisted with his shots. “What?”
For some reason, Johnny could move again … and then … it all at once made sense to Johnny. It was only by what means she had left that she could let him know.
“How … how do you know she trusts me?” Barrister asked, brazenly upon him, and grabbed Johnny’s arm.
Johnny turned and was instantly sucked into Barrister’s pit bull eyes. This woman was a story that needed an ending … it was running through Johnny’s mind … and she needed someone to turn the pages.
Johnny climbed back out of those pits and hurriedly measured what he saw: the detective’s spotty neck scruff, his pinched nose, his disheveled mop on top. It didn’t seem right. He glanced at the chief for another answer, but heard a voice say, “No, not him.” … and so, scratching his head and looking more confused than ever, Johnny once again surrendered to the detective’s beady eyes … and said, “… She just told me.”
(To Be Continued)