The Taylight Zone - Anthology Six

02 - Lazy Eye - A.J.

CANDLES

DIANA Hanson, seven and a half months pregnant for the first time, looked up at her husband Walker with pride, her hand over her stomach. "He kicked. Clarke kicked."

Walker put his hand over his young wife's stomach. "Clarke Isaac. . .I'm still calling him Ike.

"Diana smiled at him. "Walker--" Walker held up his hands. "Honey, I won't argue about a child that isn't even born yet."

"Better not," Diana flinched. "Ow, he's a strong baby."

"Any son of mine is strong," Walker grinned.

Diana emitted a sigh. "I love you, honey."

Walker gazed with the utmost pride upon his wife and unborn son. "I love you, too, my angel. But it's time you and the baby get some sleep."

Diana smiled wearily. "We won't argue."

Walker watched his wife rise slowly from her wicker rocker. "You need help,Di?"

Diana groaned with effort. "No thank you, darling. Be up soon."

Walker watched his wife dissapear in the house and up the stairs. He let out a breath and let himself drop into a wicker chair and pop the top on a beer. He was going to be a father soon. A FATHER. Him, twenty seven, a daddy to a little boy, and then who knows who else! (Or how many who elses. . .Walker opened another Corona) He could financially support the baby, but he knew nothing could prepare him for the challenges that lay ahead. Diana wanted to name him Clarke. Clarke! Of all the absurd things his wife had announced during her pregnancy, naming the baby Clarke James had been the most outrageous of them all. Walker himself had decided on Isaac. After giving in to his wife--you learn fast not to argue with a pregnant woman--they compromised with Clarke Isaac. But Walker would call him Isaac, no matter what. Isaac, his first born; Isaac, his baby.

Diana had fell quickly into slumber, her hands resting on the perfectly healthy and unborn miracle. But her dreams were none too pleasant. She dreamt of when she was 15 and her best friends Emily and Natalie were going through their witchcraft phase. Diana had always hesitated about those things, being brought up by strict Christians, and also because it was just so strange. Lately Natalie had been mooning over Jarrod Hinlee, and had gotten to the point of desperation in attempts to have him. She'd broke into his locker, talked to his ever-so-popular-friends, and had tried spells which didn't work in the slightest. So when Natalie Gordon sat down at the base of the tree and looked up at Diana, she expected trouble almost immediatly. "Di, we need your help."

"I won't get into this," Diana warned, looking past the merry-go-round and at the baby swings across the park.

"No, nothing like that!" Emily Bershwitz laughed. "We just need you to get something for us from this store."

Diana closed her book and climbed from the tree. "Give me the cash."

Natalie gave a low laugh. "That's just it. We need you to steal it."

"No way!" Diana cried immediatly, her blue eyes widening.

"What, are you afraid?" Emily challenged.

"YES!" Diana declared. "Afraid of getting in deep shit."

"You won't get in trouble, I swear," Natalie begged.

"Then why don't you do it?" Diana demanded.

Emily and Natalie exchanged looks. Natalie spoke. "She won't sell them to us. She doesn't think we're experienced enough witches."

"Maybe you aren't," Diana sighed.

"Please. . ." Emily begged.

Diana licked her lips nervously.

Their desperate pleas rang fresh in Diana's ears even though the experience occured over ten years before. They somehow convinced her to steal four red candles--one for each post--for the seduction of Jarrod.

Diana walked into the store, her long blond hair hiding her face. She travelled down to the back and picked up the set of candles and read the tag. 'The powers to give a witch the ultimate talent of devotion and seduction upon any person of any sex for any amount of time . . .' Diana sighed and put them in her backpack. Now Natalie and Em wanted to be the ultimate love machines. Great. She started towards the door. She was almost there. . . almost home free. . . "EXCUSE ME, MISS!" the owner of the store shouted.

Diana froze and turned around sharply. "M-me?"

The woman motioned Diana over and Diana meakly followed. She yanked off Diana's backpack and took the candles. Diana could only watch, horrified and wondering what she was doing in that situation. She, a good girl, about to be charged with shoplifting from a wiccastore. If she got in trouble with the cops, her dad would kill her.

"I could call the authorities," the scottish woman Dimitra said. "Or I could handle it my way."

"Y-your way?" Diana asked in a breath.

Dimitra looked at the candles. "You know what these do? You are such a pretty girl already. And yet you wish to make every male head turn at your mere prescence, every one of them stare, want, need? You wish to fool with thier hearts and minds more than you can do already, child? You think you can handle this?"

Diana shook her head. "No! No! Not me!"

"You are young. You seem to claim innocence of some form," Dimitra said, reaching her hand out and tracing under Diana's left eye with a finger. "Yet you want this power. See if you can handle this power."

Diana began to gasp and she realized as her eye felt like it was on fire, that this witch woman was giving her the powers that Natalie had wanted so badly.

"NO!"

Dimitra withdrew her hand, breaking the spell. "You commited the crime, child, you shall pay the price."

Diana began to sob as the fire filtered from her eye. "Please! Not me! Someone else! Na--Nat--please!!! Not me!!!"

Dimitra grimaced. "You stress your innocence. You are no witch. You shall not suffer."

Diana's breath came out in a rush. "Oh, thank y--"

"He will suffer," Dimitra cut in.

Diana drew back. "H-he who?"

"Not anyone you know now," Dimitra finalized. "Or even yet your husband. Be he will suffer for your crime."

Diana's eyes widened at her sentance of the plague of a man she didn't know, and she ran. She screamed as she ran, passing Emily and Natalie and flinging her empty backpack at them.

Natalie and Emily looked at eachother in confusion and followed Diana. When the hysterical girl tried to explain her condemnation, the witches assured her that Dimitra was a nutty old woman. But they couldn't reverse the spell because they were not even powerful enough to perform it. And yet no one could comfort Diana. They didn't feel the fire. . . theirs was not damned. . . theirs was not damned. . . theirs was not damned. . . they didn't feel the fire. . . he was not condemned. . .

Diana woke up with a start, her hands clutching at baby boy. "No," she whispered, crying softly. "No, no, not him. Not my baby."

Walker turned over, half asleep. "Di?"

"Honey, oh, honey," Diana sobbed, breaking the barrier holding back a flood of tears.

"What happened?" Walker asked, sitting up and holding his wife.

"She's going to take my baby," Diana sobbed.

Walker hugged his wife. "Oh, angel, it was just a nightmare. No one is going to hurt Ike."

Diana pulled away. "Clarke."

Walker let out a laugh. "Honey, it was a nightmare. He--is--safe."

At the mention of "he" Diana couldn't help but shiver. She let Walker lay her down and shut the light, not hearing the words he said, but putting this curse from her mind. She managed not to think of this any further.

NOVEMBER 17, 1980. . . 8:08 P.M.

Diana let out a contended sigh. "I feel great. No pain, no kicking. And this, honey, is fabulous fettucini."

Walker laughed. "Thanks, honey. And it is good that you feel better."

Diana's face contorted. "Uh oh."

Walker turned from the fridge to Diana. " 'Uh oh?' ""Ow," Diana said slowly.

Walker put the Pepsi bottle back on the shelf and shut the door. " 'Ow?' "

"Oh, God," Diana finalized.

"Honey?" Walker asked, taking the car keys and gripping onto them.

Diana set her glass down. "Honey, my water broke."

"HOLY SHIT!" Walker cried, dropping the keys. He picked the keys up, rushed to

Diana and brought her to the car. Then he started out for the hospital.

2 HOURS AND FORTY THREE MINUTES LATER. . .

"WALKER HANSON I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! YOU WORTHLESS SACK OF SHIT!" Diana screamed.

"That's right, one more push," Doctor Weiss advised, her hands positioned.

"Bring your baby into the world, Di!"

"Aaaaah!" Diana screamed again, wishing she had drugs and swearing that she'd never have another child again. "WAAAAAAALKEEEEEEER! YOU ASSHOLE!"

The assistant to Dr. Weiss patted Walker on the back. "It's normal. She's actually not dissing you THAT bad. I've heard worse."

Walker just nodded and flinched as Diana squeezed his hand like a vice yet again.

The next sound that was heard were baby screams and Dr. Weiss shouting: "It's a boy!"

Diana let herself fall back on the bed, caked in sweat. She sighed as the nurse put the wrapped up baby in her arms. "Oh, my son. My baby. Hi, honey."

Walker, stunned, took the baby for a few moments. "Son," he whispered. And as he handed the baby back to Diana, he whispered again, "Hi, Ike."

Diana hugged little Ike to her, counting ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. His eyes were wide and the creamiest brown, and his hair was not quite blonde, not quite brown, but there sure was a lot of it. "My little monkey," she joked. He was thier baby. And with all effort, Clarke Isaac Hanson was finally brought into the world. Kicking and screaming, but he was there.

LATER THAT NIGHT. . .

Little Isaac--Walker didn't even try to call him Clarke--appeared to sleep through the night the third day of his life; his first night at home in his new nursery. The proud parents slept in their own adjoining room, Diana home for the first time since Ike's birth. While they thought their little son was safe, he was about to be violated in the worst way. . .

A middle aged woman with long black hair and deep blue robes approached the crib. She leaned over it. The baby inside was awake and aware and silent; not from fear but from observation. She was sure this one would be an intelligent child. He'd grow so brilliant. . . with many, many talents. . . he would.

She'd make sure he'd at least have one, though.

Dimitra touched the bottom of the baby's eye and began to push it up like clay. Images transported into Ike's mind. Images of his mother feeling the fire on that day, of when her eye should have bared this symbol. But his little eye burned so badly. He opened his mouth to scream, but found he couldn't. He began to cry silently. He knew this woman was not his mother, but where was his mother when he needed her? Didn't she know he was in so much pain? Dimitra let her hand go with a laugh.

"Well, handsome baby, let's see if you can handle what your mother wanted to have. What her friends wanted to have. You'll see that other people's hearts and minds are not to be tampered with. Or maybe you won't. But you'll have something, Isaac. You'll have somethingbig."

Ike didn't see the woman make her exit. The fire had begun to fade from his eye and sight came back slowly. He opened his mouth and began to scream andcry.

17 YEARS AND 248 DAYS LATER. . .

Taylor crossed his arms. "Ike, what the hell are you doing?"

Isaac gave Taylor a look out of the corner of his eye. He made a quick glance from his watch (2:48, when that cute chick Elsa usually goes to the coffee house. . .) to the red guitar he held (named Hannah for the chick who let him go all the way. . . but he could have had anyone he wanted. He just chose Hannah). "Lookit, boys, I don't want to play 'Sometimes.' Got me? It's a cheezy reject song and I'm sick of it."

Zac stomped over, his bright boots clashing with everything else around. "Ike, why are you being such a dick?"

Ike turned to Zac and put Hannah down. "What would you know about dicks, Zac? Has yours even grown in yet?"

A look of offense crossed Zac's face and he made his way to the garage door. He opened it. "I'm out of here. I'm going to Jeremy's." He proceded across the street, throwing his drumsticks and flipping Ike off.

"Really, Ike, what's your problem?" Taylor demanded, shutting the garage door and powering down his keyboard. "What, Ike?"

Ike found he had no answer and it frustrated him. He sat down and pulled off his Airwalks and replaced them with his rollerblades. He got up, pushed past Taylor and opened the door.

Taylor shook his head. "You have problems!" Taylor yelled after Ike, shutting the garage door and heading inside with his music book under his arm. Ike rollerbladed down to Park Street, slowing up as he neared one of the shops. He took down his hair and fixed up his leather jacket. He bladed slower and slower as he neared the coffee house, the Java Rama. To his dissapointment, the French girl Elsa Dupree was not sitting at an outside table. But another beautiful girl caught his eye. She looked around Taylor's age, but still a fine number. She had long reddish blonde hair and green-blue eyes. She sat alone. He neared her. "You alone, miss?"

The girl looked up Ike and met his eyes. A strange feeling suddenly hit her and she gazed into them. They were uneven, but the most beautiful ones she'd ever seen. Suddenly he became the most handsome man ever to approach her. From his build, his face, his eyes, his lips, his height, she derived perfection.

She felt drawn to him instantly. "Yes."

"A girl as lovely and beautiful as yourself should never be alone," Ike added. "Mind if I keep you company?"

The girl let out a sigh, unable to take her eyes from Isaac. It seemed like her one wish in life was for him to ask her that. And now her life would be fulfilled because he chose her. "That's incredibly sweet of you. Please, sit."

Isaac lowered himself in the chair opposite the girl's. He spoke to her in a voice suave and smooth. "I'm Ike."

"I'm Jennie," the girl replied, offering her hand to Ike, who didn't shake it, but kissed it. Her heart began to pound and she felt a little faint.

Isaac peered at Jennie as he lowered her hand from his lips. "Hello, Jennie." "A-are you a Hanson?" Jennie asked.

"Yes I am," Ike grinned. He loved to be recognized sometimes.

"I love your band," Jennie said without realizing it. When reality hit her, she firmly realized that she hated Hanson, especially the monkey oldest who was talking to her. But she just had to say those words to please him. She had to make him happy becuase. . . because. . . because he was so perfect, because he wanted her, and she wanted him so badly now.

Isaac knew all this. He knew how the jacket showed off his arms, his hair framed his face just right, his lips blended all of the colors of his face. And he knew what she was thinking. He knew what to do about it. What to do with her. Just like Elsa and Marion and every other girl--all of them, pretty much--he chose. Because when Isaac Hanson chooses a girl, she falls head over heels for him. It worked every time. Zac and Jeremy called it an "X-Files" thing. But little kids like them could never understand. It was Ike's talent. And not like music, this talent was better. If this was like music, the record companies would throw themselves at his mercy. This was natural to Ike. It was Ike's talent. His talent.

Isaac leaned foward casually. "Thank you."

"I went to your Tulsa concert," Jennie continued in a soft voice. It was all she could manage. Of course, at the time, she had been forced to go, but now she was having a huge change of heart.

"I bet I saw you," Ike replied, locking onto her eyes. "I have a knack for spotting pretty girls. But you, Jennie. . . you would stand out and leave 'em all behind."

Jennie blushed and looked down. "Oh, Isaac."

"Ike, just call me Ike," Isaac whispered, gently letting his fingers touch Jennie's, then slide over hers and hold them gently.

Jennie couldn't reply; she found no words. Her breath was racy from exhiliration and the love at first sight theory just had a new firm believer.

"I like you," Ike whispered, leaning over to Jennie's ear and rubbing her knuckles with his fingers.

"I like you, too," Jennie whispered back, letting the caressing feeling of Ike's breath on her ear linger.

Now came the good part, just like every other time. Ike leaned away from her ear and gently kissed Jennie's temple. Then he let his lips move towards Jennie's, kissing occasionally on the way. And when he got to Jennie's lips, she instantly submitted and Ike gave her a forceful kiss. A minute or so later, he pulled away, leaving Jennie quite breathless. He then rose from the seat, put his hand in his pocket and dropped a piece of paper with his phone number on the table. He rollerbladed away, knowing he hooked another one with his talent. His natural born instinct. . . if only he knew. . . but he didn't and he'd never. He only thought that it was so easy, just so damn easy.


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