A Different Type Of Torture: A Challenge By Frank Atanacio; The Burning Season
By Robert Frost
Love at the lips was touch As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air
That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of--was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?
I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they’re gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.
I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.
Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain
Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.
When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,
The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.
Between Darkness and Light the Fire burns
Little Laura Kimber was afraid of the dark, when the light went out, her over-active imagination took flight. She would open her eyes as wide as she could, but saw nothing. Yet, she knew he was there, watching, waiting, and that scared her.
Laura recalled the vague warning from a strange woman she encountered on her way home from school at the age of eight. “You will walk the razor's edge between light and darkness.” The old woman whispered in her ear. “Never lose sight of the light my child.”
The old woman was right.
Detective Laura Kimber would look right into the heart of darkness, as she sieved through the abominations that can only be conceived in the convoluted recesses of the twisted human mind.
Kimber felt soiled, she needed to cleanse herself of the ugliness that clung to her like a bad smell, she wanted beauty in her life, she decided to accept the offer to join a few like minded people in a poetry reading group.
Kimber's motives for joining the group, was twofold, perhaps the time was now right to share the secret poetry she began writing as a young girl, but joining the group would also give her an excuse to see more of the handsome strange she had met a few weeks ago.
The man was an enigma, when she needed him the most, he appeared, only to disappear just as mysteriously. He showered her with flowers and sent her the most romantic love poems, beautifully written on fine vellum monogrammed paper.
Frank Santoro was a dream, attractive and expensively dressed, to Laura, the slightly cynical smile was like rain clouds hovering over the desert. He was tall with a thick mane of salt and pepper hair, the steely grey eyes followed her as she entered the room, piercing into her like laser beams.
The latest handiwork of the arsonist had left Kimber sickened to the core, but in this job, joviality was the coping mechanism of choice, she learned early not to show her feelings. Laura dreaded going home to an empty house, she decided to take a detour and stopped at a local bar. The distraction should temporarily stop the horror movie that was relentlessly playing in her head, she needed alcohol, one drink, possible two might do the trick.
She walked into the Watering Hole, pulled up a stool and sat down. “Scotch on the rocks” she replied, in answer to the barman's raised eyebrow, she turned around to find grey eyes boring into hers, the man had claimed the stool next to her, she did not protest, she was ready for the promise of human warmth, she needed to lose herself in the hurricane that were raging in those eyes.
In his arms later that night, the police detective felt more alive than she had in a long time.
Although Kimber did not tell Frank what she did for a living, she had hinted that her work was stressful and that she would often unwind by writing poetry. She was pleasantly surprised when he began to recite one of her best loved poems, “ To Earthward” by Robert Frost. Laura knew then, that she was in love.
Frank had convinced Laura to read her poems to a selected audience at a friend's home, reluctantly, she agreed.
She arrived at the house, but Frank was not there. She walked up to the lectern, summing up the courage to begin the recital, she though “how ridiculous, she was a detective, she have despatched vicious killers back to hell, so why was she shaking like a school girl... why is it so darn hard to read this stuff in public?
Smiling nervously, rubbing her left hand against her neck. A red tide of embarrassment crept slowly from her neck to her face, she glanced at the door, still no Frank. She took a deep breath and began.
"My world was empty before you came...” Frank slipped into the room as the phone in Laura's pocket began to vibrate, “oh shit....sorry, I er..I must take this...sorry.” She apologised as she hurried to the door, making brief eye contact with the man now sitting at the back of the room.
"Yeah..Kimber....Oh dear God no... not again."
On the other end of the line was Lead Detective Nathan Chambers, Kimber sensed the anger and desperation in the man's voice as he uttered three simple words. “He struck again.” Kimber didn't need to ask, she knew to whom Chambers was referring, the sadistic arsonist.
The acrid smell of burnt flesh was overwhelming as Kimber approached the chaotic seen, making her way to the back of the Bridgeport shipyard. The blackened mass of twisted metal were still smouldering, all that remained of the shipping container and a family of four. It soon became evident that planks of wood from old broken shipping crates was thrown into the container to help fuel the fire.
In a corner at the back of the container was what appeared at first, to be a pile of charred rubbish, but the awful stench of burnt flesh, told a different story. It was in fact, the cremated remains of two young children, a man and a woman.
The small family had clung together as ferocious flames licked mercilessly at their tender flesh, only the killer heard the desperate screams as the family who had recently arrived in the country hoping for asylum met their end. They had handed over all that they owned, to escape their country's tyrannical despot.
They were migrants seeking a better life in Connecticut, USA. Instead, they found their worst nightmare. The arsonist had changed the game and the modus operandi.
Kimber sniffed the air around her, there was another smell. “Accelerant?” she inquired. “gasoline” said the fireman next to her, “The bastard made sure they knew what was coming, he made an opening at the top of the container and dropped enough stuff in there to cause an inferno.” I don't suppose he left anything behind, did he?” “Actually,” Nathan Chambers appeared from behind Laura, he was holding out a note. "The sadistic piece of shit left this....the cocky bastard is taunting us, look... he is gloating."
Kimber took the hand written note from Chambers and glanced at it, cold sweat washed over her entire body, the world began to spin, she threw the expensive monogrammed vellum from her hand as if it were on fire.