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5. Rules of Society

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We live in a complex world, a sort of equilibrium of circumstance. The United States is ruled by a number of people. Such examples are the President, Congress, Supreme Court, House of Representatives and so forth. Our lives are controlled by only one person, that person is you. Yet, whether we realize it or not, we are judged everyday based on various elements, personality, appearance, the list goes on. If we’re being judged at least once every day, don’t you think we’d know it? No, because we’re being judged by society. If someone has a negative opinion of you, do you think they’re going to step up and tell you? Why should they, after all, they have the right to their own opinions.

Society creates a mold for all people, which varies from place to place. Here, our society has certain characteristics, a sort of rubric that we use to determine where people “belong”. Yet, is such a prejudice fair? After all, who makes these rules? Society does, but who agrees to them? Who votes on them? Think about it; consider the “freaks” in school. What characterizes them as different, unusual, scary? Did anyone actually take the time to get to know any? No, because we judged them as different based on their appearance. They were excluded from society merely because society saw fit to exclude them. They appear more vulnerable then those in large groups. A basic rule of society is to attack the small groups of outcasts, or more importantly the lone ones.

Society is a very powerful enemy because there is no one enemy. The world is society, and you cannot turn your back on the world. Some people think they can, that they don’t need it, they can make it on their own. That is impossible. One human’s existence is always dependent on another’s. Children need their parents and their families to live, learn, and grow. Is the idea of society’s morals being overridden by outcasts so ludicrous? Outcasts are the ones who dare to survive without society; they attempt to escape the mold pre-destined for them, and in some cases they succeed. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Yet, have you ever seen an outcast give up on that lifestyle and actually want to return to society? I know I never have, chances are I never will either.

So, it is by these rules that society is created. Those who don’t fit the “mold” are known as unworthy of our time. Why? Outcasts are people too; some of them better people then we’ll ever be. Some are the most intelligent and talented people you could ever know, that is, if you take the time to get to know them. The odds of the most popular person in school even asking an outcast for something as simple as the time is about ninety to one. Look around in school, even outside in what is known as basic society. You wouldn’t see it there either. Outcasts go to their own kind because it’s all they have. Society has blocked them out, left their cries to fall on deaf ears. Their response was to turn their backs to society and not care. To just survive as best as they can.

This story is and continues to be about the outcasts. It’s dedicated to them because it is due to them that this story even exists. They are the characters, the plot, the theme; theirs is the very issue at hand. This story is for all those that don’t fit in or that don’t want to. Those that would rather go through life alone then walk with someone who thought poorly of them. If we could just stop, look, listen, we could learn endless things from these people. They stretch all the way from the small quiet girl in the back row that never talks to the tall black clad boy who spreads terror as he walks. There are endless varieties and society just has to learn to accept them instead of reject them.

Consider your day, the people you’ve seen in that single day. A student sees various people in the hallways of their school, university etc. Consider high school, if you’re not there now, think ahead or behind your time. How many people do you think you’d find there that don’t “fit in”? Got a basic idea of how many? All right, now consider how many you’ve actually greeted or plan to. Not many, right? High school is an important part of everyone’s lives; it is a time of freedom, when we decide where our lives are headed. Now you know where you and your friends are going, but what about the outcasts? Do they go to college? Of course, they can succeed just as simply as we can if they want to, but society has created the popular fable that they are capable of nothing, given their reason to be outcasts. Not true.

With this in mind, we return to our story. All basic characters have been introduced, and the story was starting to just get set for a bit. I figure it’s about time to shake things up a tad. All families have their problems, some bigger than others do. Faith’s family is a perfect example of a family with many serious problems. Yet, Mike’s family appeared perfect on the surface didn’t it? Nobody would expect a James to do something wrong now would they? At the conclusion of the previous chapter, a bit of important information was revealed. Nobody is perfect, no matter how much they may appear to be so. Mike’s family also had a serious problem of its own, but then why wasn’t Mike and his family penalized for it? Because they managed to hide their little secret, their big ugly black spot on a clean, spotless, proud family history of success and tradition. So we continue the next day, Sunday, September 24th. There is much planned for this day, so Faith will take us further.

I was used to sleeping on the floor, so I was up and around about 6, no reason to rush anything. Roughly noon, Declan and I would have to be ready to go down to the precinct. About that time would be when Mr. James would have to go pick up his “other” daughter.  I got up and walked around for awhile while Catherine slept, I didn’t want to wake her. The house was large, so I stayed in this small vicinity near the main entrance. I walked around until light started to shine through the windows, I was guessing it was 6:30 – 7. I glanced down at my watch, frozen at the time yesterday when Hell has broken loose. The glass was cracked and shattered, the cracks stained with blood. If I had to form a hypothesis, I’d guess it shattered on impact and that the blood was from my arm, the cut I hadn’t known about.

I continued walking around until I heard footsteps in the early morning. I turned and saw Mr. and Mrs. James coming down the stairs, rubbing sleep from their eyes. They reached the foot of the stairway; Mrs. James turned and headed for the kitchen.

“Up awful early I see, eager to start the day I suppose?” Mr. James asked sleepily.

“Couldn’t sleep too much anyway, aren’t you two up kind of early for a Sunday as well?”

He thought about his response, “Well, I have a few things to do, I will drop you and Declan off at the precinct and be off, if you don’t mind. It’s 7:30 now, I’d like to be up and around by 9 at the latest, then get everybody else up if they’re not up by then.”

I knew he had remembered that he had a very important thing to do today, so I wasn’t going to push the issue. Mr. James walked around the house, opening shades as he went, then trudged back up the stairs to take a shower. I was thinking about what to do when Declan came down the stairs. He was looking less weary then yesterday; the night’s sleep had done him good. He came down, stretched, yawned a bit, and was awake.

“Good morning Faith, when did you get up?”

I thought about it, told him somewhere around 6, give or take a few minutes. He nodded, looked around for a clock of some sort, and being unable to find one, went searching. When he finally found one, it read 7:45, so we sat and talked for awhile about the events of the past two days and what was in store for today. By 8:30 we both agreed to straighten ourselves up as much as possible to try and pass as presentable. Catherine and Mike woke up about 8:45, both getting into separate showers and coming out ready for the day. We all sat down to a late sort of breakfast at roughly 9, when Mr. James came back downstairs. Time just flew by.

At about 9:30, everybody had gone a separate way, Mrs. James cleaning up, Mr. James doing paperwork, Mike and Catherine starting homework and Declan and I trying to figure out what to do to pass time. I told Declan about what Catherine had told me, about Hope, about her arrival today. He didn’t seem to find it the least bit surprising, every family has its problems. Time wore on as it had earlier, and it was 10:30 before we realized it. Mr. James came out once more with a small announcement.

“I called the precinct, they said to have you two there at 11, so I say we leave in about fifteen minutes, is that alright with you?” he asked.

Declan and I both nodded in agreement, and having nothing to bring with us, we were set to go for a long time. Mr. James had things to get together, probably important paperwork for his own errand. At 10:45 he came down and we followed him out. We all got into the car for the drive to the station. It wasn’t long, and when we got there, Mr. James said, “I’ll come right back as soon as I can, I have something important to do.”

We got out and he pulled back into traffic. Declan and I looked over the building we were about to enter, and after taking a deep breath, stepped in side by side. The room was buzzing with activity, which was to be expected in the city; when aren’t things running at the speed of light? We went to the nearest desk and gave our names; the officer there pointed us in the general direction of another desk piled high with papers. We were left to assume that somewhere back there was an actual person. The nameplate on top of the mountain of papers read, “Detective Max Johnson”.

Every inch of the desk was covered with paperwork. We saw a figure jump up and make an attempt to clear things off as quickly as possible, but he looked up and realized we were already there.

“Sorry for the mess, lost track of the time I suppose. I’m Detective Johnson, I have a few routine questions to ask, please, have a seat.” He seemed completely lost by the huge piles surrounding him. He ran through them again real quick, looking for the correct files. Declan and I sat and waited about ten minutes before he actually found them, at the bottom of the pile of course. He started with the same routine questions, name, age, date of birth, living quarters, family and so forth. The “detective” was obviously new at this, he kept repeating questions and asking unimportant ones. After another fifteen minutes, a superior officer came up to him, said a few quick words in his ear, and waved us into his office.

Now we’d be speaking to the sergeant in charge of the precinct. He settled himself down, glanced casually through a couple of files in front of him, cleared his throat, and began to speak.

“So, we have four deaths in a matter of roughly three days. Let’s see, Mary Martin, died of natural causes. Peter Martin; killed in a possibly deliberate car accident. Kate Nolan, it seems was supposedly murdered by Thomas Martin. Lastly, Thomas Martin was killed by New York State in self-defense. Now, the only remaining family you have, Frank Nolan, arrested for possible murder of Kate Nolan. First of all, where were you when the murder occurred?”

Declan answered first; “I was in the hospital for my eye.”

The man across the desk stared at the gray eye, nodded, and looked to me.

“I was at the apartment at the time.”

Again he nodded, “So what happened?”

I told him the entire story, about Uncle Tom, about fighting him, about how he confessed to having Grandfather killed. He listened silently the entire time, absorbing the details. I had to relive the day in all its entirety, all the pain returned with it. Crying was just a thought though; I’d never break down like that. It was a sign of weakness, no; I had more important things to worry about. It took about ten minutes to get through our explanations of Uncle Tom’s greed and the various events of the past few days. The officer just sat there without a word. By 12, he had asked all his questions and we had given all our answers in a somewhat satisfactory manner.

“Alright, here’s the case. The will leaves everything to your mother, then your father, then you two. Your father is going to be released today; charges are hereby dropped due to lack of evidence. The will shall be read once more tomorrow morning at your apartment and everything will be set. As for the funerals, the state will cover all four due to these “special” circumstances. They will be held on the same day, same time and same cemetery. The arrangements have been made and since we have much to get in order, they would like to be held as soon as possible. If you two wouldn’t mind a night service, it shall be done tonight, like I said, the arrangements as set.”

He was scribbling down some notes and handed the sheet of paper across to us, “Here’s all the information you’ll need to get there. I would suggest staying with the James until then, the police will take down all the lines at the apartment in a couple hours.”

Declan and I kindly thanked him for all his services, turned, and walked out. We stepped outside and saw Mr. James sitting by the door. There was a young girl in her early 20’s hovering around near him. We assumed that was his “long lost” daughter that we weren’t supposed to know about. We walked over side by side, neither really wanting to talk about the day. Mr. James completely understood; he probably didn’t want to talk much either, so we walked out with Hope taking up the rear.

We got in the car for the drive home in silence, and it stayed that way for some time. Mr. James noticed and felt he had to do something about it.

“So, how’d things go? I trust all the arrangements are set?”

Declan was lost in thought, so I decided to answer. “Yes, everything’s been worked out, the four funerals are set for this evening.”

He nodded, “So soon, and why altogether? One person can only take so much you know,” he let his voice trail off.

I considered what he was saying; we can only take so much. One can only tolerate so much of what? Pressure? Hardship, loss, possibly grief and if one can only take so much, I suppose I can take a shipload. Declan was still in his state of deep contemplation and I saw fit not to disturb him. The ride proceeded just as quietly; we were nearly back when Mr. James asked, “What time do the ceremonies begin?”

I looked down at the sheet of paper, “6.”

He nodded again, checked the time, and went back to his thoughts as I returned to mine. We returned home, walked in without a word, and went separate ways. Mr. James led his daughter to the rest of the family to get reunited. Declan and I stayed in the doorway, he was still thinking. He must have been taking the time to recollect on the past events. He stood around in silence for roughly ten minutes when the family approached. Mr. James stepped forward.

“Declan, Faith, I would like you to meet my eldest daughter, Hope.”

We all shook hands like we were expected to; the casual “hello” and were finished with it. The family once again went to talk, and they continued to until about 3 that afternoon. Declan and I had found two chairs to sit in to talk for awhile in a sort of study. We went over what the sergeant had said, what would happen tomorrow, seeing Father this evening, if they let him out in time. Cops are so slow, they seldom tell the honest truth and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was still there. Around 3:30 we heard footsteps approaching, and thinking it was one of the family passing by, we continued our discussion.

“So the reading will be done tomorrow. There won’t be a long ceremony tonight, no priest likes to do a night session, especially with four coffins,” Declan said quietly.

“I assume I’m not going to be in school tomorrow then, I can’t be in two places at once. I missed the first reading anyway and I don’t plan to miss this one.”

“Right, things will work out alright, don’t worry about it. I’m getting used to seeing the world differently,” he said.

I looked back at the tired gray eye; it made me crazy to think of everything being Uncle Tom’s fault. From here to my grave I would forever blame him for his crimes, and should I see him in another time, I would spit on him. He wasn’t even worthy of going to Heaven. He’d sold his soul to Satan for greed, and he belonged there. He had a life, but he had given it up for just the opposite, the Devil.

My thoughts were interrupted when I realized the steps hadn’t gone past, they had stopped completely. I turned and looked to the doorway and saw Hope’s eyes meet mine. She looked as though she’d been in the military for years, hardened and tough, someone you didn’t cross lightly. Declan had noticed as well, as he examined the unknown member of the James family. She stood there, looking around, trying to get used to her surroundings once again. These things take time of course. She was in another world, one of thought and reason, yet upon realizing where she was, she came back to reality.

“Sorry to interrupt your little…chat, but I was just kind of wondering, who the hell are you and what are you doing here?”

I figured I’d let Declan answer that one.

“We came here because your family insisted upon it due to our own family problems, and the fact that Faith threw your brother’s girlfriend down a flight of stairs,” he concluded with a smile. I stared at him with an odd glare. What was wrong with him, telling his sister that? What had possessed my brother?

She looked me over carefully and let out a small grin. “Not much, you her put down a flight eh? I’m going to have to meet this one.”

“You will, she’ll be here in a couple of hours,” Mike told her as he rushed by.

I looked over to Declan and back to Hope. This would be a very interesting evening. Hope was still looking back and forth between my brother and I.

“What happened to your eye?” she asked curiously.

Declan considered his words as we both stood up to walk out. “A case of sibling rivalry,” he replied.

Hope laughed at that one, “You again? How was it that that happened by accident?”

Declan was on his way out with me behind him when she moved and stood in the doorway. He nodded and said, “It’s a long story. It was a dark night, we couldn’t see, and we each thought the other was a prowler, that’s all you really need to know anyway.”

“Really now? For future reference, if I ask you a question, I expect an answer. Understand?”

He was face to face to her now, staring back into her eyes. “Understood.” She still stood in his way, and he wasn’t standing for that. He pushed her out of the way, and kept going. I fell in step behind him as Hope looked on from the doorway.

He continued straight out the door and outside. His face was turning bright red and his temper was rising.

“I hate people like that! Without a doubt, her and I are going to get into a big fight before the dust clears.”

“Don’t let her bother you, we have enough to worry about. It’s about 4 now; we have two hours. I’m going to go in and call home to see if Father’s there.”

I went back into the house and dialed home, the phone rang without an answer. I figured that he wasn’t home yet and probably wouldn’t be for a while. Time dragged on slowly. Mr. James told me that they wouldn’t go with us to the funeral, it wasn’t their place. I told him it was no problem and that I agreed with him completely. He rushed off to straighten things up to make the house more presentable. I returned to Declan, being he’d cooled off a bit. We’d have to walk to the cemetery, so Declan and I decided to start out early. It was roughly 4:30 and we’d go slow and take our time. We walked along, talked half of the way and arrived at the cemetery at 5.

It was a nice cemetery, the sun was going down and its shadow was displayed on all the headstones. Declan was looking around also. We spotted a group of people hard at work. We walked over and watched them dig. Two freshly dug holes stood before us, with several men in the remaining two adding finishing touches. They were grumbling and swearing to have to work so late on a Sunday. Four of the bunch stood at the edge waiting to help the rest out. They were looking down into the hole, yet upon hearing the approaching footsteps, looked up. Declan and I stood at the edge on the side opposite the men by the fourth hole. The men had jumped out of the third as we made our way over.

“What are you doing here, who are you?” one of the men at the edge asked calmly. They were all covered in dirt, tired looking and gruff. A hand rose from the pit, and two men reached down and pulled him out. For the last, they lowered a ladder as he fixed up the hole. At last, he also came out and stood with the one man awaiting an answer. Declan moved forward and told him quietly that we were here for the ceremonies. The man nodded and went off to help prepare the graves.

By 5:30 all four holes were ready for the coffins. Of the original group, only six remained. They stood by quietly, waiting. Declan and I found a bench, so we sat. By quarter to 6, four hearses drove into the cemetery, stopping about two minutes’ walk away from the holes themselves. The six waiting men went to the cars and helped carry the coffins, one by one. While they were in the process of setting things up, the priest arrived. He looked around, checked his watch, and remained silent. We stepped forward to watch the placement. At 6 everything was set to go, and the priest began with the normal procedures.

The ceremony started promptly and dragged on for hours. It was useless; I couldn’t hear the man’s words anyway. It was just a voice droning on and on, if there were any real words, I couldn’t find them. Declan was standing at full attention absorbing everything. I wanted to burn the coffin with Uncle Tom inside; he wasn’t worth burying, not after what he’d done. I fixated my eyes on my mother’s coffin, hers was the most important to me. Why had fate chosen such an untimely and unfair fate for her? She didn’t deserve it. I would have done anything to bring her back, I was there, and I could have stopped him. It was my fault, I was to blame; it should have been me. Yet here I stood – looking onto a scene that wouldn’t focus, forming memories I wouldn’t remember.

There was a sound behind us, yet neither turned around. The priest continued his pointless babbling and we continued to pretend to listen. He had to perform a speech for each casket. The rustling sound ceased, and the silence of the night settled once again. The priest had completed the proceedings on coffin one, which contained Grandmother Martin. He moved down the line to Grandfather Martin, saying much the same words as the first time, at least that how it sounded to me. Declan continued to stare straight ahead into time and space without so much as a twitch. I tried to focus on some of his words, I heard such words/phrases as “resting eternally,” “Heaven,” “remembered,” and “escapes the wrath of Hell here on Earth”. He was in a better place; I knew that for certain. Time wore on, and the priest wearily moved to casket three, Mother. He was getting tired of this, and it was a lot of sorrow to handle at one time, for both him and us.

He continued his readings; I looked back at coffin one and two. The waiting men were in the process of lowering them to the ground. Their swears and complaints were noticeable throughout the priest’s speech. One of the caskets was going down incorrectly, and the workers had to bring it up and try again. It was a tiring job, it was late and they wanted to go home. Declan hadn’t taken his eyes off of the distant spot he was staring at. He seemed so lost, so distant, I couldn’t think of anything to say to him after the ceremony.

It felt like an eternity was passing at the speed of molasses. Declan’s eyes lowered to his watch for half a second, then returned to the imaginary spot. He mouthed that it was 7:30 and I nodded solemnly. The priest concluded the rite for Mother’s soul and moved on to Uncle Tom. He would be wasting his time of course, I was certain Uncle Tom was headed straight for Hell. If God forgave a demon like that, my thoughts of him just came down a notch. The man had never gone to confession in his life, if he had, he wasn’t truly sorry. He had made Communion, but skipped out on Confirmation. He never went to church, broke just about all the Commandments, and had just recently spit on God and the Bible by turning to Satan. His soul was as black as the night and all the sorrow in the world could not change that.

I didn’t even want to hear what he had to say about Uncle Tom; the priest was simply reading what he was told to, he couldn’t know just how unworthy the demon next to him really

was. I watched as the dirt was thrown down on my grandparents and my mother lowered down. Declan just shifted over as we moved down the line, still not a word, glance, there was no sign of life or emotion.

The ceremony ended at last, the priest left to go home. It was 8 at night. I turned and watched the dirt being heaved on my mother’s grave. I stepped up to where Uncle Tom’s casket was; it had been lowered down already. I hated him so much, I couldn’t believe he got to die and the police actually felt sorry for the scumbag. I spat on the demon’s grave, he deserved so much more, but it’s not my place to judge. Declan still hadn’t moved from where he stood. I watched as the grave diggers threw the dirt onto my mother’s polished casket, saw it slowly disappear under earth. Declan finally found the courage to step forward and examine the event. He walked back to the beginning, proceeded down the line, having separate prayers to say for each. We turned to leave, and saw Hope standing there. She looked lost and alone, like she was abandoned by all of society.

I didn’t feel up to talking to her and I don’t think that Declan did either. We both left the cemetery walking side by side. She stayed, staring at the four graves in a row, and in a state of wonder I would suppose. Uncle Tom was a drunk and a murderer, and so into the newly laid soil had been stuck a knife, dark and twisted, and it would stay where it was. It had belonged to…well that’s not important. I’d kept it to symbolize the evil that my uncle was. The purpose of my action was to show pure hatred. Hope had been confused and was probably considering removing it out of respect for the dead. I turned and looked at her staring down, and she turned to look at me with an odd stare. Words weren’t appropriate at the current time, so I turned on a heel and walked in step with Declan. She remained as she went over the names marked on the temporary markers. “Mary Martin, Peter Martin, Kate Nolan, Thomas Martin.”

Hope was indeed an odd name for someone who doesn’t have any. A statement once stated to me in reference to my own name. Today I have been put up against the trials of reality, sociality, mentality and overall insanity. Yet, as the saying goes, “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.” I don’t fear evil for the only evil I now know is inside me, and if I cannot know myself, I cannot know fear. My life has been corrupted with evil, but I shall not walk the path my uncle was so easily led to. I will press on and I will survive to tell the tale. Declan and I walked out as simply as we’d come, leaving Hope staring at the ground searching for the right words.

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