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"Captain Enclave," short story excerpt

Wednesday 7/21/21

First section of a new story I've had in my head for a bit. Special one. Will be going slow with it.


***

“I’m here to intercede, fear not,” said the man who stepped from the mid-teen’s closet, almost tripping over a shoebox of love letters from this boy back at camp a couple summers ago and a box of disused ballet shoes as he amended his initial words with a “shhhh” and a “we will get through this—together.”


“Who the fuck are you?” the girl’s mother demanded, the protective lioness ready to strike first and scream second.


Her child whom she’d been comforting sat wide-eyed on the bed. The tears that had been on her cheeks were drying as she looked at the man who’d emerged from her closet with all of these patches of shadowy dust bunnies and what seemed to be pocket lint garlanded about his shoulders and neck. The gray fibers appeared to orbit his head.


“Oh, that,” he said, noticing them notice the lint. “Be not troubled! It’s still taking hold.”

The girl, now calm, asked, “What is taking hold?”


“The inexorable spell,” the figure replied, kicking a bra out of his way and marching on to the side of the bed opposite the fierce mother-lioness who would lay down limb or life for her child, and repeatedly if need be.


“There,” he continued, pulling up the chair from the girl’s desk, as they both beheld him and no screaming was done. “The positive pall has taken affect. The calm acceptance of other levels of thought and being. The version of self that lives therein. I coined that, incidentally—the positive pall.”

“No, it’s nice,” the mom added. “Has a ring.”

“It does,” the girl piped in.


“Fine, fine,” added the man who was not a man, who was so much more. He pulled an inhaler from his pocket and took a hit. The ghost-shadows of lint were hell on his allergies.


“Fear not, I won’t shed the lint. It will be gone when I am gone. But until then, we have our time together. For I have emerged from the soft spots of human existence, those pockets of psyche where pain can be too real to be faced, but must be faced. With a friend. A friend one finds in one’s self. I am that friend.”


“Then you are…” the mother began.


“Yes, I am,” confirmed the man. This was a nice house, he thought. One of those homes from the 1800s that had been redesigned for modern times, but without vitiating the original builder’s intent. The compromise of the ages, achieved with that all-time winner of an elixir: good taste. “It is I,’ he wrapped up, “Captain Enclave! Now. Down to business. Why have you summoned me, my child, without knowing you have summoned me.”


“From within myself?” the girl queried. She just wanted to be sure.


“From yourself. That’s how it works. Then I step out from where you don’t expect me to step out, like I’ve been there all along, because in a way I really have. For in the fissures and pockets of human life…”


“No, we get it,” the mom suggested, relaxed now, because the clumps of shadowy lint also had a brainwashing ingredient, which was crucial to the normalization of the enterprise.


The girl looked like she’d been sitting there for a long time in that manner of someone who has come to seem as if they’d always prefer to be in bed, were that possible.


“You are scared,” Captain Enclave said to her, leaning closer.


“She feels like she’s lost her friends,” the tigress suggested on the girl’s behalf.

“They want me to die,” the girl said.


“Is it because you’re so pretty?” Captain Enclave asked.


“No, that’s not it.”


“You are, though.”


“Thank you. I don’t feel like I am—“


“You are. Is it because you’re so smart?”


“No. I’m awful at math.”


“But you’re an excellent writer, aren’t you?”


“My mom says my stories are good. But she’s my mom.”


“What do you think they are?”


“I think they’re okay. If I keep working hard they can keep getting better.”


The lioness wore a pained expression. Finally, the words burst forth from her lips, nearly knocking over Captain Enclave and tumbling the girl from her bed.


“They call her a tranny freak. This beautiful, talented child. This giver. Most people just take. And all this child wants to do is help, and give, and love, and inspire. Be there for everyone. She never puts herself first. And it’s her oldest friends, too. Sally LeBlomb. I practically raised that kid when her alky of a mom was screwing up her life and out with her latest stud. Then I’d be there all over again holding her hand as she sat in the tub and completed another of of her at-home abortion doses. And you know what this fucking kid said about my kid? She said that she bet she had a tiny dick like a little pussy. They’re fifteen-year-old children.”


The lioness sobbed. But she could not be the focus of Captain Enclave. At least not now. Later, perhaps. Someday. When he came to her, in the backseat of her car, or out of the mist as she showered in the modernized bathroom downstairs.


“Look,” he said to the child. “You know what you are. Say it. Say it as often as you need to say it. Repeat it as it were the sun coming up each morning. Nothing just happens. Everything must be learned. You know who you are. And that also means that you know who others are.

Or who they are at that point in their life. I am sorry that you know this. But very few people will ever truly know who they are. Hold fast to that, because it is joyous. Repeat. Learn. Learn again. Bulwark. Hard times will pass. The person you are will not. Except to grow. This might just really suck for a while. Reach out to others.”


The child went to touch him, but this really gross ball of lint from another world, another pocket of being, stuck to her hand, and she couldn’t shake it free.


“Oh, sorry,” Captain Enclave said, “give it a sec,” becoming invisible, but still present—such that he could move about, and go into other rooms, open drawers, though his wilder days in that regard were behind him—while he said his farewells and the girl’s tears resumed, in addition to the words of the lioness, as if it’d just been them all along and neither had formally witnessed the presence of this other…force.


The girl’s father was ascending the stairs to check on his child as the invisible Captain Enclave headed off in search of the front door, and his next mission. The man also would have laid down limb and life—as many times as it took—to help his daughter. He hadn’t understood at first. Who she was. Who she said she was. Who she thought she was. But it didn’t matter. He’d come to learn that his own comprehension was irrelevant. Or, put another way, that its arrival would keep. All that mattered until then was his love.


Captain Enclave put each of his hands on each of the man’s shoulders as they were about to pass on a kind of stairs of life, their lips so close that they could have kissed. And with a powerful thrust, Captain Enclave kneed him in the balls as hard as he could.


“Some things just have to hurt,” he thought. “Until they don’t.”