Friday, January 9, 2015
In Gods' Good Time: Chapter Twenty of an Angel Beats Fan Fiction Story
In Gods' Good Time
C V Ford
Chapter 20: Jacks' Story
"Mmmm ... Smells wonderful."
The aroma of popping corn wafted through Rachels' modest apartment, more than favorably registering on her olfactory sense.
"Yeah. The aroma of REAL popcorn ... ," the man answered as he helped with the dishes. "'Course it doesn't compare anywhere near to that great Lasagna of yours."
The meal that evening had gone beautifully. The lasagna Rachel prepared was as every bit as excellent as she made Jack expect it to be. The two cafeteria salads, supplemented with the dressing from her kitchen and the red wine, rounded the meal out perfectly.
She turned from the sink, eyeing the near empty wine bottle on the table.
"That's about the last of it."
Duffy nodded toward the fridge.
"Managed to scrounge up the last four bottles of Coke for the movies. Been conserving it best I could. Special occasion and all. I'm glad it's this one."
"Wine, Coca-cola or no ... As long as it's you and me ... " pausing, looking at him, "that's what matters."
He looked down at the dish towel he held, frowning.
"Is something wrong?" Her concern surfacing.
"Yeah ... maybe ."
"That 'you and me' business."
Hesitantly, Rachel put her left hand over the two of his now tightly clutching the towel.
"That's just it ... Nothing wrong with you hon."
He looked up from her hand on his.
"The problem's with me."
"Maybe we should sit down first."
A few short steps to the dining area, they resumed their seats opposite, candles still lit.
"Just what could be the matter with YOU of all people, Jack? Ever since my arrival here in this crazy place, you've been wonderful. Not just in helping me adjust but-"
She stopped on his waving it off and noticing the pained expression on his face.
"It's something I kept putting off thinking about until ... Right after, in fact, you took me up on this ... uh ... date of ours."
She returned his look with a gently firm one of her own.
"You've something on your mind and think there's something in your past I should know ... that it might affect us both in some way?"
"Exactly ... There's some things I feel I MUST tell you before we let things go any further."
"All ... right."
Duffy took a deep breath, letting out half before continuing.
"I was ... considered by a lot of folks to be a strange kid ... I had ... 'problems'. Mostly school ... I ... "
"It's okay Jack."
"Oh ... Hell. I'm cutting right to it ... I ... I was institutionalised for a couple years ... They had me there- ... I was just a kid! ... Ten years old and they ... they put me away! Just like that ... I-"
The effect of Rachels' hands enfolding Jacks' was electric. He pulled away abruptly.
"I-I'm sorry! I-"
With no hesitation, the teachers' hands firmly regrabbed the mans'.
"Don't be," she said softly. "You've no reason to be. Go on."
The direct look in her eyes told Jack she to be sympathetic.
The awkward hurdle jumped, Duffy calmed and continued.
"Like I said, I was something of an awkward, weird kid. Obsessive ... episodic fits of temper ... overactive imagination. Given to wild fantasies about things I guess. I really don't remember much about what happened then except my parents alluding to several incidents at school ... again, I don't remember much ... prompted them to seek ... 'help' ... something about schizophrenia ... At least that's what the ... uh ....experts ... called it.
"The so-called 'experts' suggested I be held for uh ... 'observation' ... in a place I'd rather not name. It was two years of so-called therapy with its' ... drugs, manipulation, mind games and ... abuse ... And what I mean by abuse I mean ... in every sense of the word."
"Yeah ... When it started going in THAT direction ... I ... I managed to spill it to my parents on a home visit. Dad took some action and I was out of there for a summer ... but ...
"They sent me back! They sent me back there ... that damn place. Guess the 'experts' convinced them other wise or they had a legal hold of some kind. But I was back there ... God ... DAMN them! ... the experts I mean ... I-
"Well ... my ... uh ... 'therapist' stopped doing what he was ... doing ... Probably thought I'd report on him again. And ... I was out after a few more months.
"Many years later, I found copies of some records stored by my parents. The bastard had signed off a clean bill of health on me ... to get rid of me I guess ... and I was out of there at age twelve. I was ten when I was put in ... just a ... kid ... "
"You HAVE been hurt. That much is plain. But you've been out of there many years now."
"In body, yes. In mind, I've kept myself there and let it get to me the rest of my life. Let it have a constant say in life and the fault is mine.
"That isn't quite all there is to it though."
"My stay in that miniature looney bin was followed by a three year stint in a military school. Damn experts said there wasn't actually anything wrong with me and that my real problem was discipline and suggested I go there. Less said about that the better. All I'll say about it is it wasn't very good as a military academy ... Bullies and bedwetters supervised by nuns. All they did was pound into me the non-virtue of standing around waiting for orders ... To show initiative was to disrupt the order of things.
"I figured out later in life that that's one way how some others get ahead. Beat it into the heads of potential competition that thinking and action on your part is wrong, thus helping clear the way for them. While they have you convinced you'd be doing wrong so's to keep you from even trying, they'd be doing the same things and succeeding.
"And, to make it short, that's what I'd been doing the rest of my life. Waiting for the approval and consent of others ... Waiting for orders and having no initiative because I thought I'd be punished or penalised in some way. Things were just something to endure ... get through. Hell ... At the end of high school I didn't even attend the graduation ceremony ... Just another thing to get through.
"So ... for me ... life was just a series of things to slide through ... didn't apply myself much to anything. Was bad at relationships ... Wasn't the best boy friend in the world with what few women I'd been with ... Even my relationship with the Lord, I took the wrong attitude. Repentance requires living in a manner I wasn't much committed to. Salvation is empty and meaningless without that commitment.
"Thus, my life is ... was ... empty and meaningless ...
"I'm a loser Rachel. A loser because I let something from ... way ... back ... dictate the rest of my life to me. I knew all along that was the case but didn't care.
"There's a lot more to it but it comes down to the fault being all mine ... For not getting up on my hind legs and making a fight of it so to speak.
"So I'd understand it if you'd not want anything to do with me other than the work to be done here, I-"
"Sorry to disappoint you Jack."
"Say what?" The man looked up and into the eyes of a stern, determined looking Rachel O'Hara.
"You're really down on yourself, aren't you?"
"You really like to punish yourself, don't you!"
"Maybe you're one of those masochistic types who think breaking up is much more satisfying than hooking up. Maybe-"
"Now just a sec-"
"THEN MAYBE NOT!"
"NO! ... You look.
"Jack." She made his name sound like a definite statement. "Don't sell yourself short."
"You are NOT a loser."
"If you were, I'd have no interest in you."
"Listen Jack and listen good." She waited to see if he'd try to speak again. Seeing he wasn't, she continued. "Up to this moment, I had doubts ... about myself."
"Your ... self?"
"Yes. I was thinking I wasn't uh ... for the want of a better word, ... 'worthy' ... to be near you until you just reminded me of something."
Jack cocked his head to the side with a questioning look.
"Look," Rachel continued. "My life isn't what you'd call Ideal or pristine either ... Everyone here ... you ... me ... all these kids ... are here for different reasons but they all involve sins of omission as well sins of comission. We're here because not only of things we did or didn't do but of things others did to or didn't do for us. If we were the perfect beings and had the ideal lives we would have liked, then ... Not only no one would be here but this place ... this school ... wouldn't even exist.
"You once said this place might be a test of some kind and I've concluded it is. If I were the one grading you, with the exception of the last few artificially pathetic minutes, I'd give you a perfect score."
"Rea-lly ..." He was dubious to say the least. "How so?"
"I've asked around. From what Yuri and the others say ... even Tachibana ... well ... When you came here they said you immediately took charge of your situation, took matters into your own hands. You started reconoitering the area ... assesed the situation and took measures."
"They looked on me as some kind of threat."
"At first, yes. Some thought you might've been the advance guard of an invasion of some kind."
"I guess they would at that ... what has this got to do with-"
"When you tried direct contact, you didn't push your weight around. You were calm, collected and polite in so far as the circumstances allowed. I understand you were even in a position once to gun them all down but didn't. That and the way you handled Kanade after made something of an impression."
"When was that?"
"The night when you first saw them coming back from one of their ... uh ... meal ticket runs," she giggled some.
"What's so funny?"
"Yuri said you were hiding in the bushes like some kind of commando or something."
"Never told them anything about that, how could- ... Had to be Shiina."
"Yuri and Noda watched at a distance but it was that strange girl ... Shiina ... who filled them in on it. Is she as good as they say she is?"
"Better ... Probably was standing right next to me the whole time for all I know ... I still don't understand how this has anything to do with-"
"YOU ... are more capable a man than you give yourself credit for. After you got here, you threw yourself into your work. From what I understand you more than earn your wages. You also aren't content to sit around on your time off. From what I've been told, you've done a lot of exploration of the surrounding area on top of your own interests. Much more than you've let on to me."
"Just filling in time, I-"
"Still down on yourself? That shouldn't be like you. Not at all-"
"Let me make my point Jack."
"Just like a red head!" Exclaiming inwardly.
"What I'm trying to say is this ... After the ... When I came here ... I ... was ... scared ... I had no idea as to what was going on. I wake up in ... Japan ... Only to find it's not. First Tachibana then Yuri and her uh ... brigade ..."
Both gave out a laugh. Jack earlier noted Rachel also had Yuris' not so favorite anime in her collection.
"They give me the low down on an unbelievable situation. In spite of my being here so far, I still find it hard to take it all in. Though they told me all they could, a lot of blanks needed filling.
"So there I am. It's my second day here. Still can't wrap my head quite around it. I'm in the cafeteria being absolutely GRILLED by what seems half the female population about where I'm from, when in walks up this ... GUY.
"He's kind of goofy and nervous at first ... Has a bit of trouble in what to say. 'Speaks' Japanese quite strangely and comes across as an unlikely cross between John Wayne and Woody Allen.
"Yet ... Has a strength about him I know I can trust and rely on. He's straight forward and plain talking on most things ... ," her grip softened then her thumb started caressing the back of his hand.
"But is kind of shy and reserved on others ... I ... I like it when he's around."
Jack held back a gasp. With a knowing twist to the mouth, he raised an eybrow and spoke.
"You trying to get me to disappear?"
"This may be a bit soon but ... If I do try to get you to uh ... disappear ... It's because I want to disappear with you. If we're to meet the Lord to be judged, I want to be before Him with you.
"But until that time comes, I'm quite happy to be spending my time here with you.
"As for your past ... c'mon. Like I said, no one here had perfect lives. You should hear mine sometime ... When I'm darn good and ready of course."
"Baby," Jack replyed, relieved an smiling, "you've got yourself a deal!"
Jack was pleasantly surprised at Rachels' choice of film. An earlier scanning of her collection revealed mostly an assortment of dreaded "womens films".
"Thelma and Louise ... Interesting."
"I felt it was the closest I had to the kind of movie you like. Still kind of a 'chick flick'."
"On the contrary. It's actually a guy flick ... It's only incidental that the two guys in it happen to be chicks."
"Uh ... Chicks, huh?" Right eyebrow raised look.
"Hey, you said it first."
"That I did."
Rachel was right. The few students coming and going by the lounge did add to the "theater experience" with some staying to watch. Soon, half the lounge was full of curious students quietly watching the American made films with the couple.
"Was it really like that in your country Duffy-san?" A curious one asked.
"Over twenty years before my time but yeah. The economy so bad, jobs so scarce ... People desparate for work, going all over to find a paying job. That scene you just saw-"
Jack noted Rachels' responding grimace at the bad grammar.
"-was real. Gable, Colbert and film crew were shooting that scene at the crossing when that train just happened to come by. The men on those flatcars, smiling and waving for the cameras, weren't movie extras. They were actual folks hopping trains, looking for work. The director decided to leave that shot in the film.
"I understand the Depression was even worse in Japan ..."
In watching the students responding to the films, Jack felt reassurance in the Left Behind-like "universal translator" or whatever it was this strange "afterlife" had, doing the same for electronic media as well as normal speech. He noted the odd Front uniforms dotting the audience here and there as well.
A couple off to his and Rachels' left stood out in particular. The girl having a look of curious speculation on her face while viewing the screen. Not being a TV watcher, let alone the possibility she might be from a past era to begin with, even an old black and white film would seem new and interesting to Shiina. The rather "worn" looking young man with her, patiently answered questions about what cars, trains and anything else appearing on the screen puzzling her.
"Poor fellow," Jack thought, chuckling inwardly. "I can only imagine what YOU'VE been through all day."
As if in answer to an unasked question, the lad looked at Duffys' speculative face.
"We thought you could do with some chaperoning." Grinning.
Turning back to the screen, Jack slumped back, neck on the couch while staring at the cieling, sighing and shaking his head.
"What?" Rachel smiling at his perplexed countanance.
"Irony ... all ... Is irony."
To be continued ...
Storyline and original characters (only) copyright © 5-1-14 C V Ford
In Gods' Good Time chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
Go to C V Fords' profile page and anime fan fiction list at fanfiction.net here.
Go to Fan Fiction dot Net here.
Go to Jays' Tee Vee blog main page here. Ifn' you be seein' articles under this 'un, yer there already!
Disclaimer: The preceding is a NON-PROFIT work of fan fiction for entertainment purposes only. I make no claim to ownership of the names/characters, places, & events mentioned in this work that are the intellectual properties of others. They are the sole properties of their respective owners. Please, by all means support the owners of such properties in the purchase & enjoyment of their works.