Heart Eaters – Part Five – Helen


(Please note: This post contains graphic violence that some may consider offensive.)

Heart Eaters

Chapter Three

Helen

The three days off that  Doug had insisted Lucy take had been misery. The only thing that kept Lucy sane was not having time to think. Too much time to wonder, to dream of Robert, and Lucy knew she would end up in a padded cell alongside the helpless souls she cared for. Violet, Sandra and Bobby were her life vest in the raging, stormy sea she was trying to survive. Extravagant meals in the evening with custard and fresh raisin bread pleased Lucy’s precious children, and helped her to busy herself while the children were in school. She doted on them, playing games, making treats, even taking them out to the local dinner one evening, she needed them so she wouldn’t remember. However, the prospect of not being alone in the house cleaning all day trying not to wonder where her love might be laying, pondering the many places his bones might be scattered was calming as she prepared to go the hospital.

White, like the color of early morning mist and soft as rose petals, Lucy wrapped the scarf around the dark purple marks on her neck. Parts of the bruise had started to turn the sickly yellow of healing, and she was thankful for it.

It was Monday, another week without him, Lucy thought as she gathered her things to care for her patients. For Christ’s sake Doug! Lucy thought as she went over her rounds for the day. Only one patient from the C.I. Wing, I can cover my own responsibilities! No reason to push my patients onto other nurses because I was careless.

 “Good morning Luce,” Doug called enthusiastically.

The cheerfulness in his voice irritated her as she spun to face him. “What right have you to change my schedule!”

“Whoa, whoa, Lucy, I was simply worried for you and I, as your supervisor, have every right to organize the nurses as I see fit.”

“Ok, I understand that I was careless, but that is no reason to make the other girls carry my weight!”

Sighing, Doug shook his head. “I was trying to help you. You know it might do you some good to let somebody behind that wall of yours from time to time. The other Nurses wanted to help anyway. They were all more than willing.”

“Great! So now I’m a charity case! I don’t need your help or anyone else’s! What I need it to be able to come to work and not be coddled.” Lucy put her hands on her temples and breathed deeply. Doug said nothing. You’re being ridiculous! Lucy thought to herself. He is, after all, only trying to help. As if to remind her of her need for help  the white scarf slid of her shoulder.“I’m sorry. I, mm,” Lucy grunted looking up at him. His forest green eyes were deep and troubled, not angry as she had expected. If Zeus could have been hurt that’s what he would have looked like, Lucy though examining his staggered, chiseled face and tense, muscled form. Along his jaw line, down his pristine white jacket that did nothing to hide his tone and robust shape, her thirsty eyes traveled. Jolting at the realization she wanted to see his eyes sparkle as they usually did when he greeted her, Lucy’s face hardened again. “I appreciate your concern but it’s not needed.” Lucy gathered her things and stormed past him.

“Lucy,” Doug entreated.

“I have work to do,” she called over her shoulder.

Doug cursed and walked into the break room. Running his hand though his dark hair, he shook his head wishing he could see that look of interest, of want on her gorgeous face again. It had only been a glimpse, but he knew he hadn’t imagined it.

Shame, anger, disloyalty bloomed and danced hideously inside her as Lucy hurried down the hall. It had been over a year since she had felt any stirring, any desire for anyone and it rubbed her insides raw that she had. Not knowing what had come over her, Lucy begged Robert for a forgiveness he could not give.

Needing to work, Lucy pushed her feelings to the back of her mind alongside so many others she could not, or would not deal with. The thought of Doug’s tortured eyes didn’t resurface until she made her way to her only C.I. patient.

Before Lucy had completely slide the small window open on cell one o’ seven, she heard the prayers, smelled the blood, it made her stomach turn. Sato masochism, that’s what she remembered reading about her patient, Helen Christenson and also reading something about a self-inflicted stigmata. That’s what Lucy expected to see when she entered. That was always the way with Helen, cutting or hitting her head with whatever she could find to inflict damage, biting her wrists, digging holes in her feet with her nails, breaking her skin and ribs by throwing herself against her bed to try to recreate Christ wounds. That was until they removed her bed to save her rib cage.

Blood crusted under Helen’s finger nails and flaked, falling dry and sour from her hands as she pressed them together in prayer. “Forgive me father for I have sinned. I have no confessor, and unable to stand before our Holy Mother and ask her forgiveness for my wickedness. Please preserve their souls, keep them from the fires of Hell. Forgive them their sinful deeds.”

Lucy couldn’t help the revulsion that rose like bile in her throat. She knew who Helen prayed for; she knew what sins she begged forgiveness for. “Focus on your job.” Lucy said to herself as she called out. “Helen, Helen, please come to the door.”

Helen did not answer, and her prayers did not cease. “Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death. Amen.”

“Helen, please come to the door,” Lucy reiterated calmly

“Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Water from Christ’s side, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. Within Thy wounds hide me. Suffer me not to be separated from Thee. From the malicious enemy defend me. In the hour of my death call me; And bid me come unto Thee, that I may praise Thee with Thy saints and with Thy angels. Forever and ever, Amen.”

Lucy huffed. “I hate having to do this,” she whispered then called through the hole. “Helen if you don’t do what is asked of you, we won’t allow you to see Father Cohan this month.”

Lucy cringed when Helen’s prayers came to an abrupt halt. Her hands, bruised and bloody thrust through the hole.

Lucy began methodically wiping the crusted blood from the floor and chaffed inside as Helen began to pray. It was like, Lucy thought, a pair of dirty hands desecrating a holy relic.

From the day Helen had been admitted and Lucy had read the police reports given to the hospital a war had ragged inside her; pity for a young girl who would never lead a normal life and revulsion for someone who could do something so horrific in the name of God. The simplicity of her chore allowed her mind to wander back, imagining how it must have happened based on the information from the reports she had read.

*****

November 21, 1944

The gasoline vapors burned Helen’s nose as it gurgled out of the red, spouted, metal can, and sloshed on her conservative, black shoes as it dripped of the plush, floral, king size bedspread. Satisfied that the bed was thoroughly soaked, Helen set the nearly empty can on the carpet. She prayed under her breath as she reached up to assure herself that the steel cables were tight around their wrists and ankles and secured to the wrought iron bedpost.

“Dear God save their evil souls,” Helen prayed as they breathed heavily in their drug induced slumber. “Holy Father save their souls from Hells damnation. Dear Jesus forgive them for their wicked acts knowing that after this night they will sin no more.”

Over and over she prayed the simple prayer as she sat in the rocking chair next to the bed. She prayed as she waited. It shouldn’t be too long now, she reasoned. I gave them the pills six hours ago. They should wake soon so I can tell them I love them before I save their souls.

Helen turned at a moan from the bed.

“Helen, Helen, what is going on?”

“Relax Daddy,” Helen said softly. “Don’t struggle. I don’t want you to cut your wrists on the wire.”

“What the Hell is this,” Helen’s father said jerking against the bed. “Untie us now! Is that gas I smell? What in the Hell Helen!”

“Daddy you shouldn’t curse. It’s a sin. Don’t you see I’m saving your soul?” Her voice was deceptively calm.

“What are you going to do? What do you mean saving our souls! Honey, please untie your mother and I and we can talk.” His chest started to heave quickly.

“No daddy it’s too late. I saw what you did, with the Susan Flyn.” Helen said as she moved to the side of the bed.

“Helen, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Her father said, sweat beading on his forehead.

“Dad, I may only be sixteen, but I know what adultery is! I listened as you coupled with her, made her squeal unholy things. Susan will go to Hell, but daddy, I’m going to save you.”

“Yes, yes, I have sinned.” He blurted. “I repent. Please honey it was my sin not your mothers. Release her.”

“You don’t know do you?” Lucy waited, he did not answer. “Daniel Weber, you know you’re very best friend, has been bedding your wife longer than you’ve been bedding Susan.” Lucy smiled at the shock and pain on her father’s face. “How ridiculous!” Helen laughed. “You judge mother even when you’ve been doing the same thing.”

Dumbstruck he turned toward his wife, now awake, “Is it true?”

Not seeing any reason at that point to deny it she simply nodded as tears began to tumble from her eyes.

“I have been worried that you and mom had been drinking too much so I was watching you. I had been reporting back to Father Dexter.” Lucy said.

“What! The church had you spying on us!” Her father raged.

“It’s a good thing they did. Now you won’t go to Hell. Ask God for forgiveness before I say goodbye.”

“No, Helen, don’t do this. Baby, we love you please this is ridiculous! Let us go!” He begged as her mother blubbered.

“Repent daddy, repent!”

“Honey,” Helen’s mother mewed. “Please!”

“Helen, stop this!” He commanded.

“Repent mom, repent for your unholy acts. Repent before I save you from eternal damnation.”

Helen pulled a small, brown matchbox from her pocket.

“Oh God!” Her mother cried. “What are you doing? Please honey, we love you don’t do this.”

“Helen! No! Please!” Her father cried.

“Repent Daddy, repent!” Helen commanded.

“I repent! It won’t happen again! Please, please!”

“Repent mom, repent for letting that man inside you!” Helen almost begged.

“I repent baby. I repent.” She cried struggling against her bindings.

“Helen stop!” Her Father cried, his wrists bleeding against the wires. “No, no, please. We have loved you!” He screamed as she drew the match across the side of the box and it flamed to life.

“I love you to daddy,” she said as she threw the match.

The bed became an inferno.

“Helen!” Her parents screamed in unison as they were engulfed in fire. “Please! Helen! Please! No!”

She prayed as she watched them burn.

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