The Cure

AUTHOR’S NOTE; The following is a work of horror.  It isn’t suitable for children under the age of 18, just older children. LOL

            Lindsey Marks was a lesbian.  Since she was five years old this fact had been a huge secret to be hidden from prying eyes.  Her parents, fundamental Christians would’ve come unglued at the very idea.  Even at this age she knew it so Lindsey buried it deep in a bunker in her mind, stuffed into a closet and hoped it would never escape.  But it did.

            Puberty isn’t easy on anyone, she thought. 

            Sitting in the sterile room surrounded by the religious trappings of the organization she had come to about this terrible fact she grunted softly at this truth.  The other girls in school were teasing the boys with promises of kisses, worrying about their budding breasts and mimicking the popular Disney singing stars.  While this all occurred around her, she wrestled with this unchristian desire.  Gym class became a new method of torture.  Not because of her limited athletic gifts or the sour-faced PE instructor (both of which were real problems) but her true terror was where to focus her eyes in the shower and locker room.  Prancing bodies of nubile female flesh on display in various states of undress made her life hell.  Martha Pruitt being the epitome, the crown jewel of temptation. 

            Poor Martha.  She had no idea how crazy she made me when sixth period came around.  The reality of it was bad enough but the nightly dreams were pure torment.

            The unsuspecting girl was beautiful, vibrant and perfectly formed.  Like a statue by some Renaissance sculpture her nymph-like form burned in Lindsay’s mind.  Martha definitely wasn’t gay.  In fact she went through dates with boys like a fat woman through a Whitman Sampler.  Testing this one, trying that one the object of her nightly fantasies pursued love of the heterosexual variety at will.  The worst part was she remained chaste, unblemished and virginal despite her many weekend outings. 

            It gave me the opinion she was confused about why she couldn’t find a boy she could remain stuck on, Lindsay thought glumly.  The fantasies increased when I began to pretend she was secretly just like me.

            But just after graduation Martha married Brad Forester, squirted out the first of two squalling brats and settled down to be a “happy homemaker” in the suburban town.  Dreams, even the forbidden type, die hard.  Hers shattered visions felt not in tiny tinkling pieces but fell off the wall of her heart like a heavy painting.  The drop was far and the effect was painful.  Like a blow to the stomach it halted her breath and made her double over.  When she heard the news she cried at first.  Then in a rage she drove out to the city.  Her tears blurred the signs on the highway and her sobs made her throat raw while she fled from the horrible reality.  She escaped into the nearest gay bar.  Lindsay drank herself numb and allowed herself to be comforted and then loved fully by a dyke in the women’s room.  This was her first indulgence and she gleefully wallowed in it.

But the guilt and shame of the encounter (no matter how delightful it resided in her memories) caused her untold grief.  Like a lot of closeted gays Lindsay learned to hide her true feelings by become an actress out of sheer terror.  Even though society had changed and gays were more accepted the very thought of coming out wasn’t even a choice.  Gay and lesbian programs of the 1990s, Ellen’s coming out and many others couldn’t sway her to just accept her natural inclinations.  Homosexual behavior was losing its stigmatism.  But not in her parents’ household where Jesus held sway and homosexuality was an abomination before the eyes of God.  There could be no terrible a place than being confined to the house she grew up in.  Like a prisoner serving a life sentence only able to view the beauty and freedom of the outside world via a window Lindsay felt caged.  The unfairness of it, a problem not of her own choosing seemed to be some cruel cosmic joke played on her during her conception. 

            I didn’t ask to be this way! She shouted in her mind.  Beside her a young woman turned to look at her.  Icy fear coursed into her veins when Lindsay imagined the equally troubled female had heard her mental shout.

            But the single encounter with the flannel-wearing dyke opened up the door to her closet and the beast was loose.  Tossing it scraps was the only way she could keep it under control.  To stop it from bursting out and roaring her dirty little lie to the world Lindsay began to lead a carefully planned double-life.  College eased some of her troubles.  Far from home she could pursue her lesbianism without fear of her parents discovering it.  However the very Christian university made it hard to find let alone hook up with other women.  Off campus she would sneak to smoky bars hidden away in basements where sexual freedom would ring.  Meanwhile she dated the occasional man, posted pictures of herself with them out and about on her Facebook page.  Mother and Father were so proud of her seeking out “good Christian men” who wanted to wait until marriage before sex. 

            All that play-acting and planted evidence couldn’t stand up to one single mistake, she nearly sobbed.  Oh Allison, what have I done?

            Allison Beatrice Harper was a biology major dropout, aspiring poet and an open lesbian.  Like Lindsay she too had come to the religious university to study and hide her true desires.  But the pressure became too great and she just couldn’t take it anymore.  The usual response in homosexuals on campus was to commit suicide but Allison took a different path.  She leaped out of the closet, proud and defiant to the utter horror of family, friends and co-eds.  She was immediately ostracized and banished to the role of a non-person.  But this didn’t deter her, not Allison no way.  She got a job (several in fact), found an apartment and began to explore her sexuality.  Courageous, undaunted and without a trace of an apology the blonde woman became an underground poster child for the secret gay community.  Even Lindsay had heard whispered praises of her before actually meeting Allison.  Poster girl Allison, the pride of the gays and lesbians.

In was in the spring semester, that fateful evening when Lindsay crossed paths with this dynamo.  An unsettling thrill shivered its way up Lindsay’s spine as she recalled it.  She uncrossed her legs and pushed her knees tightly together to hold back the familiar reaction to thinking about Allison.  Meanwhile the woman beside her began sniffing into a tissue like a mourner at a funeral.  Allison refused to bend to it all.  She fought stereotypes at every turn, chance and with a ferocity only seen on a proud predator prowling some distant African savannah.  The poet/waitress/icon wouldn’t wear men’s clothing, kept her hair long and carried herself like a female.  No rainbow flags, gay pride bumper stickers or slogan covered shirts would be found in her possession.  Gay was something she was, like having blonde hair.  It didn’t define her it was just something about her.  Allison was a lesbian but it wasn’t the foremost part of her life.  She was a human being first.

            The first night she met this Titan of Freedom was as memorable as bathroom encounter in the city.  Sulking in the back of the bar, hidden by a fedora hat pulled down until it nearly touched the bride of her nose, Lindsay sat listening to Open Mike Night.  The usual hate-filled songs, righteous poems and bittersweet comedy routines played out on stage.  The central theme of each was the talk about oppression, depression and obsession of being gay or lesbian in a religious college town.  One nearby customer commented on how it reminded him of Greenwich Village in the seventies.  The aging gay man with the dangling earrings began waxing poetic about his glory days.  She ignored him.  The duo reenacting a recent beating taken by a gay man on campus departed with the usual polite applause.  Nervous and scattered the clapping sounded like random and thin splatterings of a brief summer shower.  The spotlight on the microphone was empty.  A hush fell over the room not from anticipation but out of a lackluster mood.  So far the performers had truly failed to touch the hearts of the audience.

            Then Allison took the stage.

            Not in the sense she walked up and stepped into the spotlight but actually took the stage like it belonged to her.  She strode confidently, femininely and openly out from the left.  It was just her, no papers or musical instruments.  The air in the smoky room was sucked in and it was hard to determine if it was only imagination on Lindsay’s part that made her ears pop.  Like a passenger of an airline, experiencing the plane’s ascension to a high, lofty altitude the pressure painfully built and released with an audible noise.  She leaned forward.  Anticipation began to grow like a nervous titter in her chest, fluttering like the need to cough.  But now matter how many times she cleared her throat the sensation wouldn’t go away. 

            Allison began to speak.

            In clear and ringing tones she wove a masterpiece out of thin air using words which were both soft and strong.  Her theme wasn’t about being hated, reviled or rebuked.  It was simply about Love.  Her voice didn’t waver or crack out of amateur nervousness or fear of reprisal but rose like the dawn over her audience.  Heartwarming syntax, flowery comparisons and divinely inspired words flowed from her lips and across the stunned patrons.  Its message, perfect and loving spoke of a joy for life and the butterfly-like freedom of being who she was.  No hateful slogans or growling accusations could be found in the spoke prose.  Nor did Lindsay find it ethereal; a romanticized fantasy which everyone knew would never come to pass.  It was a pastry of Life surrounding a soft creamy filling of Love and covered with a topping of Joy and Goodness.  This verbal confection satisfied their hunger, tantalized their taste buds but never left an aftertaste of being too sugary or sweet.  Lindsay could hear soft weeping start up around her.  The assembled gay folk sobbed in pure adoration.  She too could feel the warm trickle of tears pouring down her cheeks and washing away the guilt.  The poem ended and many cried out aloud at its cessation.  Like a dish from a culinary master it left them wanting more.  But rather than toss them some store bought cookie the poet departed the stage amid weeping cheers, thunderous applause and loud whistles of pure appreciation. 

            I wish I could remember a word of it, she thought glumly, pausing to stare at the sobbing young woman beside her.

            But she knew what she could try to extrapolate from her memories of that night would be a pale, grotesque recreation of the beauty of Allison’s words.  It was a once in a lifetime experience, not to duplicated by any means possible.  Even if it had been recorded, passed around like some rare gift the reality of being there at that moment, hearing it spoken live and in person would claw at the tapestry she wove and make it a tattered remnant.  Like being in Washington D.C. for Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech and only witnessing it on YouTube the full power seemed diminished. 

            Then she sought me out.  It was as if those words were meant for me and me alone. 

            Like meeting a celebrity, someone you admired and thought the world of the poet walked directly off stage and approached Lindsay.  Her presence was magnificent.  No illusions clouded her brow or dulled her eyes.  She was a living embodiment of pure Life, infused with Joy and unbound by the creeping crud of Hate swirling just outside the bar’s doors.  They became lovers that night.  Not in the sexual sense but the beginnings of a close relationship which quickly developed into a full fledged feeling of love. 

            It was a brief affair much to Lindsay’s regret.  Allison refused to accept this closeted, contained version of Lindsay but tried to coax her from the depths of her budded state.

            She often told me how I was like a flower refusing to blossom, she recalled.  How many nights did she spend trying to open the petals of my life and display the beauty trapped within my self-imposed cage?

            But no soft word could free her.  Allison was never cruel, unkind or demanding when it came to this one flaw in her lover.  Her attempts to sway her were sweet.  In the end the mistake (Lindsay was certain without a doubt it was a mistake) held no hint of anger or malice.  All it took to topple the castle of cards she had constructed of her life was a text message.  The blame for its discovery was all Lindsay’s.  Summer break, a return to the oppression of home and a moment of forgetfulness was all it took to bring her down.  Leaving her girlfriend a hundred miles away, the black hole gaping in her soul had caused Lindsay to tap out a heartfelt message.  It wasn’t a long one.  Only consisting of a few words (most in Netspeak) to inform the blonde beauty how badly she was missed the text, like dynamite was powerful.  Her mother was the guilty, sneaky thief who uncovered it.  Creeping into Lindsay’s room while she was in the shower her Blackberry was violated. 

            I should’ve known better, she thought.  A tight feeling returned in her chest and her eyes began to tear up once more.  The sick sensation of being mentally raped coursed through her like a greasy caress.  Her mother, cell phone in hand, confronted her while she still wore only a towel around her middle.  Her father joined the fray. Screaming, crying and preaching the next few days saw her beaten all but physically into tear-stained submission.

            They spoke of betrayal, hurt and the impending shame of this news getting to the rest of their church’s congregation.  With crude words the two of them quoted Scripture, threatened hellfire.  Her father took an unexpected vacation, her mother’s trip to the market postponed and the minister was called.  Like a skier desperately trying to outrun an avalanche Lindsay found herself in the path of destruction.  Bibles were brandished at her like torches thrust at Frankenstein’s monster.  Surrounded and alone like the last enemy soldier on the battlefield she surrendered after only two days.  Prayers were lifted on high, telephone calls were made and her education was put on hold.  All the while her Blackberry kept ringing or chiming as Allison tried in vain to contact her.  In the end Reverend Blackburr answered it.  Shame overwhelmed her when she heard the devout man chastise her girlfriend for leading a soul astray and predicting Eternal Damnation to its author.

            The woman at the desk spoke a name.  Lindsay looked up to see a young man, dressed in a suit and tie stand up.  His demeanor and slumped shoulders echoed her own.  Like a prisoner he crossed the distance from his seat to the desk and mumbled in acknowledgement of his name. 

            This place reeks of self-righteousness, she declared to herself, Between the Scriptures on the walls, the pamphlets and books denouncing homosexual behavior it might as well be a Nazi re-education camp clothed in the trappings of a Christian desire to reach out and help.

            This was her only chance at salvation or so Reverend Blackburr had decreed.  He spoke of the hard road ahead, the sacrifices needed and the pain she would experience.  He tempered these terrible things with the promise of a return to God’s blessed flock.  While her parents nodded with teary eyes and clutching their Bibles in agreement she found herself going along with it.  The shame of surrendering still lingered in her mouth like the taste of sour vinegar.

            “Lindsay Marks?” the old biddy chirped.

            Her name was like a cold slap across the face.  Rising from  her chair she hesitated only long enough to look at the weeping woman still pressing a wet tissue to her red nose.  Moving towards the desk her feet felt like lead, her heart began hammering and her hands began to tremble.  Like a looming specter something foul and unavoidable began hovering and following her just off her left shoulder.  Whether it was God or the Devil its presence chilled her to the bone.

            “I’m Lindsay Marks,” she whispered.

            “Room six please,” the woman stated blandly.  The tone the gray haired woman was using seemed to be falsely laced with compassion trying to mask gut-wrenching disgust.  Lindsay nodded and walked down the hall.

            Each step felt like she was getting closer to the perilous edge hanging over a thousand foot drop to some rocky canyon floor.  Fears welled up inside of her growing stronger with every tread.  Her long skirt seemed to be trying to slow her down.  The flats she wore felt thin and rough despite being brand new.  Passing by a mirror she saw her appearance and instantly hated herself.  The mirror had “Do you see God’s Love” printed on it but all she could detect was another lie.  She was dressed like a woman going to a revival even the long sleeved and collared blouse felt stifling, choking and restrictive.

            “Lindsay Marks?” another woman’s voice interrupted her thoughts.

            Standing just outside the threshold of her destination was a short, chubby woman with half-moon glasses perched on her pert nose.  The smile on her face looked genuinely warm.  The crinkle of flesh below her blue eyes indicated a sense of purpose, perhaps a happiness at feeling truly useful in God’s plan. 

            “Yes,” she answered the counselor.

            “My name is Margaret Hopkins but you can call me Gretta,” she laughed.

            Lindsay hestitated at the door.

            “Come in child don’t be such a stranger,” Margaret-call-me-Gretta insisted.

            The room was very sparse in décor which didn’t reflect the religious trappings of a church organization.  The bookshelves were neatly lined with tomes on psychiatry and psychiatric dealings with homosexuality.  A single copy of the Bible held dominance on the very top.  It’s gold lettering proudly shining on the leather edge of the cover. 

            “Sit down please,” Gretta asked.

            Lindsay sat down but like a political prisoner awaiting harsh metal cuffs and shouted questions she held herself tightly together. 

            “So what brings you here today?” the woman asked.  Lindsay hated the assumption, the very falseness of pleading ignorance.

            “You don’t know?” She softly remarked.

            “Well of course I do.  I didn’t mean to sound so silly.”

            Lindsay digested her admission.

            “So you’ve been a lesbian for how long?” Gretta inquired.

            “All my life,” she replied.

            “Is that so?  How old were you when you first held the belief you were gay?”

            “I was five and at a birthday party.”

            “What made you think you didn’t like boys?”

            “When they put the plastic tiara on the birthday girl I wanted to kiss her.  It came over me so s-strong and clear.”

            “I see.  Now I know very little about how you came here so would you please tell me what happened, why do you want to change?”

            “My parents found out I was in a l-lesbian relationship at college and… well this was my option.”

            “Your option?”

            “One of them, yes.”

            “Are you committed to getting better?  You do realize most of the brightest minds in the area of psychology have deemed homosexuality to be a mental disorder?”

            “I thought it was removed as an official illness in the 1970s?”

            Lindsay knew this from talking to Allison who was well informed with the long and on-going history in the fight for Gay Rights.

            “Just because the government, pressured by certain lobbyists took it off the list doesn’t change anything,” she countered.  “So you want to be cured or are you just going through the motions?”

            She couldn’t answer it.  Not honestly since her true reasons for coming here had been due to pressure, guilt and shame. 

            “Homosexuality is a sin,” Gretta began.  “You’ve read the Scriptures or had them told to you recently I presume.  If you want to return to the fold you’re going to have to do a lot of hard work.”

            “Why is it going to be hard?  If these feelings are so natural and easy then why would doing the right thing, in your opinion be so hard?” she asked.

            “Evil is always easy that’s how it gets inside of you.  Being good and Godly is a day-to-day struggle we all face.”

            “But why did God make me this way?  I didn’t want this sin as you call it but yet it seems to be a part of me as natural as breathing.  Why would God let this be?”

            “It could be the work of the Devil.”

            “Why would he want to corrupt a five year-old child?”
            “Every soul he takes from God makes him believe he’s that much closer to victory against Our Savior.  Starting young, like with you would be easier to make you think what you were feeling was natural.”

            “But God is Love and if love feels right then how can it be a sin?”

            The woman took a deep breath and narrowed her eyes at Lindsay.  Going from a patience and understanding helper to a more stubborn resolve stiffened her shoulders and hardened her eyes. 

“We have a lot of work to do and I’m afraid this is going to require a different approach,” Gretta sighed.  “Pray with me child, pray for God’s forgiveness.”

            But in the act of bowing her head Lindsay knew she was just humoring the woman.  While she listened to Gretta implore for the Lord’s help and strength the dark force over her left shoulder seemed to chuckle.

****

            The silence was the worst part.  Her parents avoided her like a leper, only speaking when it was absolutely necessary to do so.  Lindsay was expected to read the Bible passages given to her by Reverend Blackburr and to pray for salvation.  Every night, alone in her room the memories of Allison’s words haunted her only to be chased away by the dawn’s light.  She was required to work around the house.  Laundry, cleaning and praying made up her daylight activities.  But on Sunday that all changed.

            Reverend Blackburr was a tall man with a severe expression which bordered on cruelty.  His hair, artfully combed to disguise the bald spot on his head was the shade of summer wheat.  The crow’s feet around his eyes seemed seared in by brands.  But of all his attributes it was those dark, brown orbs which appeared to miss very little which frightened Lindsay the most. 

            Flinty hard were his eyes.  Like the unflinching stare of some bird, a harbinger of doom they bore into hers, pierced her brain and seemed to seek out the very root of her sins.  Even the chestnut brown shade of them didn’t convey any softness.  Feeling like she was being studied by a pair of polished, unfeeling stony eyes they cut her almost physically.  Blackburr could outstare the Devil, or so she thought.

            Sunday evening’s events couldn’t be predicted even if Lindsay possessed some demonic power to see into the future.  If someone would’ve told her beforehand she’d dismissed it entirely.  Even though she knew the severity of her situation nothing could’ve prepared her for the minister’s opening salvo in the war for Lindsay’s eternal soul.

            “You will go into your room and remove your clothes,” he rumbled.  “Put on pajamas and come back here.”

            She stood there stunned.  The command had been received, understood and acknowledged by her brain but the request didn’t compute.  It was as if he was asking her to walk a tightrope completely out of the blue.

            “What?” she asked.

            “Do as the good Reverend says,” her mother clucked angrily. 

            She walked back stunned and took off her Sunday’s best.  Donning sleepwear she pondered the reason for a change of her attire over and over.  She deliberated over putting on slippers.  Whether or not she was wasting time she couldn’t decide.  She felt exposed when she returned to the living room.  Her mother and father were silently praying on the couch.  Two more men, ones she didn’t know had arrived.  Both of them were sturdy, strong and had the same expression of distaste.

            “I have spoken to Gretta at the clinic,” the minister said.  “She fears you’ve fallen to a demonic force and can’t proceed without spiritual help.”

            The men grabbed her without warning and held her while Blackburr began praying aloud.

            “Oh Heavenly Father we come to you tonight armed for battle,” he recited.  “Another lost soul has been snatched up by the Enemy and led astray towards the fires of eternal damnation.  Lend us your awesome might as we seek to force him out.”

            “Amen!” her parents and the men holding her grunted.

            “Lindsay Marie Marks, I baptized you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and now call you to remember those vows.  Do you forsake Satan and all his lies?”
            “I do,” she said anxiously.

            “Do you reject his hold on you?  Do you wish to be saved from an eternity of pain, suffering and damnation?”

            “I-I don’t understand.”

            “Answer the question!”

            “I don’t want to burn in hell.”

            “Praise God!” her mother exclaimed.

            They forced her to her knees.  Blackburr slapped his bible on her head making her eyes water and display wiggling stars.  She recoiled from the blow.

            “She’s resisting,” the man on her left announced.

            “Yes it’s natural for them to do so at first,” the minister commented.

            “Hold still!” the man on the right ordered her.

            “You hit me!” she exclaimed.

            “I call upon Jesus!” Blackburr thundered. “I vow this soul will be restored to Glory.”

            “Ouch!”

            The Bible slapped down once more on her forehead.  She struggled against the hands holding her but couldn’t stop them from forcing her to her knees.  She cried out in humiliation when they began praying for her immortal soul.

            “Let go of me!” she screamed over their recited words.

            “Get the chair ready,” Blackburr stated.

            Her parents went into the kitchen and brought out a chair.  She was placed into it and to her dismay and indignation strapped to it with white clothesline.  Even her head was lashed to the back upright.  Facing forward and sobbing in terror she heard the men take up places behind her while her folks prayed.

            “We’re going to begin the treatment,” the minister informed her.  “Be silent and calm down.”

            She let out a yelp of surprise and shame when her mother, the woman who gave birth to her opened up the buttons of her sleepwear exposing her bra.  The undergarment was expertly removed without taking off the top of her pajamas.  Before she could give voice to her outrage the man on her right produced a black box which had several tentacle-like wires protruding from it.  He set it on the floor beside her.  It looked like a car battery, sinister in black color and causing sheer horror to sprout up in her soul like demonic weeds.

            “What are you doing?!” she shrieked.

            Blackburr reached into his satchel and drew forth a DVD which he prominently displayed to her.  There was no label on it.  It was just a blank, shiny disc of silver.

            “We’re going to condition you to respond correctly to the immoral,” he grinned.

            Lindsay’s bra was bypassed and the sensor-like eyes on the wires were fastened with medical tape to her nipples.  Likewise her wrists, ankles and genitals were similarly connected to the disturbing device.  The lights were killed behind her and a small box with a button was pressed into her bound hand. Her mother buttoned up her top and went back to praying.

            “When you see something you like press the button,” Blackburr instructed her.

            The DVD started and in utter amazement it began with a still scene between two women, naked and in the throes of passion appeared.  There was no sound, just the solitary image.

            “You don’t find this likeable?” the minister said in the darkness.

            “W-well yes but…,” she answered.

            “Press the button then.”

            She did.

            Her nipples, wrists, ankles and genitals erupted in hot tingling fire which made her scream.  The electrical sting made her eyes water and her body to tremble.  She released the button and it stopped.

            “No you can’t stop,” he told her.

            “I won’t do this!” Lindsay sobbed.

            “Then it will be done for you.”

            He snatched the controller out of her hands.  The images shifted on the screen.  Now a man and a woman were holding hands in front of a church.   The shock didn’t come and she sighed in relief.  As it faded the terror grew and when it displayed two butch women kissing outside a bar.  She began to open her mouth.  But the snap-sizzle of electrical current ran through her.  She wetly pleaded for it to end.  Behind her she could hear her parents’ prayers mingled with the sounds of her begging.  The picture faded and the pain stopped.  Another image came up and she braced herself.  Another female couple, lounging semi-nude on a couch was quickly followed by the click of the button and the agony.  Tears ran down her face mixing with snot pouring out of her nose.  One by one the television changed and every darkening of the screen made Lindsay fear another picture which would bring misery.  Relief was had only when heterosexual images came up.  Damning and searing pain would accompany any girl-on-girl representations.  But that wasn’t the worst part. The most ignoble, ignorant and unbelievable reality of it all was it was happening at home and with her parents’ presence and consent!

            This can’t be happening!  My parents can’t really be a part of this—oh God make it stop!  Please make it stop, she blubbered to herself.  Oh no!  Not again…please not another female couple kissing!  Aaagggh!

            Crackling through her, stiffening her muscles and making her cry out the voltage ran like a rabbit throughout her body.  She tried to shake herself free when the pain eased but she felt weak as a kitten when it stopped.

            Lesbians marching in Washington D.C. for equal rights under the law;

            Snap!

            Same sex couples marrying in California;

            Crackle!

            A woman about to climax at the hands of her female lover;

            Zap!

            A couple with a child… nothing.

            A popular snapshot of two female pop-stars embracing next to a podium;

            Buzz!

            On and on it went.  An eternity of shock therapy designed to make her flinch and recoil at lesbian images and feel relief during straight scenes.  Her hair felt like it was standing on end, her nipples were tender and sore and she didn’t even want to concentrate at all on her poor groin.  The lights came on, the electrodes were removed and her pajamas were put back into place.  Her bra, the one bought by Allison lay on the floor like some dead animal’s pelt.

            “I think that’s enough for today,” Blackburr stated softly.

            “When will you be back?” her mother asked.

            “Wednesday if not sooner because first we’ll see if there’s any change in her behavior.”

            Lindsay began to cry uncontrollably at the very idea this would happen all over again.  Her body was spent and her mind too numb to formulate words.  Picked up off the chair by her father she limply hung in his arms.  Her bed felt soft but the rubbing of those tormented spots on her body were repeatedly and callously rubbed making her squirm and moan.

            “It’s okay,” her father whispered, “you did just fine.”

            He stood up and she saw her mother beside him.

            “I’m so proud of you, honey,” she said.  “You’re so brave.”

            She wanted to ask how could they do this to her?  An explanation of how they could stand there, praying as if they were in church while three men tortured her with electricity.   Betrayal flavored the hot tears running across her lips leaving a defeated taste in her mouth.  She sobbed quietly as they departed leaving Lindsay alone and in misery.

****

            The tests began as soon as she awoke.  No free and unguarded time was permitted for Lindsay to try to sort out right from wrong.  A constant barrage of questions assaulted her while she toiled.  Gay articles and pictures were left lying around like booby-traps.  She went to church and helped feed the homeless, clean the sanctuary or cut the grass.  At every turn either her parents or one of the men who helped Reverend Blackburr was near.  She learned to watch how long she glanced at other women passing by.  Lindsay tried to show no outward signs of being gay.  But despite her best efforts Wednesday came and so did the resumption of her conditioning.

            She cried.

            She begged.

            She swore she’d changed.

            They ignored her.

            Tears were shed, prayers were muttered, the images changed and the electrical shocks came and went accordingly.   Another night as a sobbing, quivering mass of smarting muscles and stinging flesh was had.  Destroyed trust, shattered ideals of religion and thoughts of suicide were her bed companions. 

****

            A month later, Sunday night again and once more into the breach went she.  The next round and so far the judges were scoring Christians 12, Lindsay 0.  The chair was in place, the black box readied and the players had taken their places.  The iron taste of fear, now fully memorized by Lindsay flavored her spit as she swallowed nervously.  The lights went out, the tray of the DVD player stuck out like a tongue to receive the disc like a communion participant.  Defeated she found little strength to protest when the first image came up.  She pressed the button when she saw the women kissing.  Pain tore through her.  The image changed, no need to press, picture good.  Next up was pain, then relief, pain, pain… relief in that order.  She blinked automatically at each picture.  What used to be a flinch had been reduced to a mere flutter of her eyelashes.

            Press…don’t press… press…press… don’t press, her numb mind repeated. 

****

            She walked into the kitchen and it was on the table.  A magazine spread open in front of the chair she usually dined at.  Her mind recorded the strap-on, the women and the bed.  She screamed and fell into a ball of quivering terror on the floor.  Footsteps came rushing out of the living room and hands began to pick her up.  She wailed and recoiled from the table.  There was a quick rustling noise of the porno magazine being closed.  Someone walked away.

            “Look,” her father told her.

            She refused the terror was too great.

            “Go ahead, Lindsay,” her mother gently implored.

            Her body trembled violently against the suggestion.

            “It’s okay—just look,” someone requested.

            The magazine was gone and relief made her muscles go slack and she limply hung in mid-air.

            “Praise the Lord,” Blackburr cheered, “she’s cured!”

****

            The night was hot, muggy and still.  Outside not even the hint of a breeze moved through the tree outside her bedroom.  The streets were empty.  Not even the far away sounds of the freeway could make her feel anything was alive in the world. 

Lying there she went over the past several days.  The treatments had stopped two weeks ago and she’d gone back to see Margaret-call-me-Gretta.  Therapy was progressing.  Lindsay was wrong she wasn’t a lesbian.  Margaret-call-me-Gretta cheered her triumph and held her aloft as a poster child for redemption.  

Lindsay was alone. 

Lindsay was in bed. 

Lindsay was saved. 

In the dark of her chambers something tickled her mind from a light-year away.  Flickering like a sputtering candle in the vast stillness of her numbed brain a light tried to stay alive.  All around this struggling spark were dark crackling thoughts. 

You’re a shining symbol of how treatment and therapy can cure the mental illness called homosexuality, she heard Gretta expound.  You are free!

“A Shining symbol, poster child and freedom, why do these thing remind me of someone else?”  Lindsay murmured to herself.

Poster child.

Poetry.

Allison the poet/poster child.

Push the button.

Push the…

Push the…

Her legs thrashed once underneath the thin sheet over her body.  The light gained some semblance of stability at the recollection of a name and her status off campus.  Imagined pain made her moan. 

Allison equals push the button, the conditioning told her.

No, a small part of her groaned.

Memories which she had locked away in the very darkest, deepest recesses of her mind kicked open the barrier she’d erect to hide them.  They staggered blindly towards the spark.

Allison equals push the button, feel the pain and be with God, the Voice demanded

It can’t be, she thought weakly.

“A dream within a dream… pure Love which light our way through the darkness… we can have them all so serene,” a familiar female voice echoed in her mind from the small flame.  Part of that magical evening restored and replayed.  Allison’s poem.

Allison means pain, Allison means wrong.

“… softly we walk, the daisies don’t mind the crush… in a garden we stride with the caress of Love’s soft brush,” the woman continued.

Allison is evil, Allison is steering you into an eternity of hellfire!

“We cannot be but what we are… no matter who thinks what from afar,” Allison’s memory tenderly intoned

PUSH THE GODDAMN BUTTON!

“NO!” she screamed back.

Ripping herself free of the clinging sheet she stood up with every nerve quivering in total defiance and hot anger.  Stock still she waited for the thumping sounds of running footsteps. 

Any second now my father will burst into the room wanting to know what’s the matter, Lindsay thought.

Nothing, no sound rocked the house. 

PUSH THE BUTTON!

“I will never push the button!” she snarled.  “God is love, God is sweet and the one thing I know at the very bottom of my soul is…”

IS WHAT?  WHAT DO YOU THINK GOD IS?
            “God would never condone torture!” she yelled triumphantly.  “God is not pain, suffering or electrical shocks through your nipples!  God is Love!”

The wailing scream of her tormentor faded in the distance while the burning ember began to grow.  The feeling of giddiness, all encompassing and utter freedom washed through her like a supernova exploding. 

Bright was the light. 
Glorious was the light.

Righteous was the light.

Filled to the brim of her being Lindsay giggled and danced in the center of her bedroom like some drunken reveler who had just suffered an epiphany.  In her sweat-soaked pajamas she boogied and bopped, reeled and rocked to some internal song playing in her head.

God is love.

God loves me.

I love God.

I love Allison.

Allison loves me.

 She loves me.

Allison is love.

God is Allison.

Allison was taken from me.

God was taken from me!

The dance stopped abruptly.  Rage took over the feeling of joy and Lindsay began to shake from head to toe with this lava-hot realization.  The mental gymnastics had concluded and the floor exercise was about to begin.  A throaty giggle bubbled past her lips and she could feel her eyes searching the room.  She felt strong, vital and unstoppable.  Her purpose was laid out before her like a banquet for a starving man. 

“He will lay out a banquet in the presence of my enemies,” Blackburr’s voice resounded from her memory.

A feast was prepared and she dug into it.  For the first time she understood the meaning of righteous indignation in the face of corruption. 

“They taught me cruel lessons,” she muttered darkly, “so I think its time I returned the favor.”

Her parents were instructed first.  After the lesson she left them asleep in their bed and got dressed.  The car keys were found on the ring by the door.  The drive to the minister’s house was short and sweet.  More lessons followed.  The students were loud and boisterous but in the end the teacher made them sit still and be quiet.  She taught them well.  Back to the car she went for more of Her work was yet to be done.  Allison’s voice helped her find the addresses of the guilty parties.  Allison commanded there be a reckoning of misdeeds, a redressing of sins but not before they saw the Truth.  God is Love and that message should be shared, indulged and rejoiced in.  From her parents, to Reverend Blackburr and his family and to the men who helped take God away from her—Lindsay loved them all to death.  Right up until the cops managed to subdue her.

****

            She stood in front of the door.  Looking into the room she saw the curled up form of the brunette muttering over and over words which shook her to the foundation of her core.  Occasionally the patient kicked out with her feet, jerking motions not the result of any attempt to escape.  Just random spasms, she moved her legs without real purpose.  The expression on her face was tough to describe.  A bizarre mixture of terrible pain, unbridled passion, perfect clarity and seething rage twisted muscle and shone in her eyes.  Like clouds they would rapidly pass one right after the other leaving only the aftermath of witnessing them on the observer. 

            “Will she ever be the same?” she asked.

            “I doubt it,” the white clad man muttered. 

            “It’s a pity, a real damn shame for she was a beautiful soul.”

            “She’s heavily sedated and I could let you visit her if you’d like.”

            “I tried that last month.  She didn’t even know anyone else was in the room.”

            “I’m sorry to hear that.  But she’s too violent if she doesn’t get her meds regularly.  Considering what she did to those fifteen people not even I would risk bending the rules for that.”

            “One could make the argument it was justice not murder.”

            “Justice?  I don’t see where slitting that many throats and carving ‘God is Love’ all over the corpses would be justice.”

            She watched the big male orderly shake his head.  He couldn’t possibly understand what Lindsay had been put through let alone possess the mental facilities to comprehend the consequences of such torture.  Few knew all the details and she was one of them.  Pressing her ear to the wire laced glass she listened to the repetitious monologue on the other side.

            “Well you can stay if you like but she’s really not going to do anything,” he told her.

            “God is love… God is love… God is love,” chanted the woman in the straitjacket.

            She sighed and shook her head.

            “No I don’t think I’ll stay,” she softly remarked.  “There is nothing left of the woman I knew in that room.  They destroyed her completely just to cure her of something that wasn’t an illness.”

            “Oh was she sick before this?”

            She turned to him, meeting his gaze with a soft strength which made him take a step backwards.

            “No,” Allison replied, “there was nothing wrong with her.”

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

           

           

           

 

 

           

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