Annabelle's Showtime
by Peter J. Rosado
forum: Annabelle's Showtime
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Annabelle's Showtime


        For years she had wondered why Raul hadn't announced his passionate love for her. But tonight, in that very room, he would. The woman was anxious. From her oaken bedroom, she stared out of the window into the gloominess of the night, awaiting a lone black horse that would be ridden by him. Raul was a servant of her father's plantation and had been for years. And for years they had both been in a forbidden love. Many were the times when they had exchanged looks of passion. Words or gestures couldn't measure the love they had, and one look was enough. The moon above was clear and full, and she watched the trail once more. Then she heard the galloping of a horse and she shut the curtains and waited. Her heart beat fast, or so it seemed. Sweat formed on the curves of her breasts and she breathed in and out heavily as she awaited the man that now climbed the stairs silently towards her bedroom. And the door was opened in a quick flash of lightning, and there, in the doorway, stood Raul. Raul stormed into the room, his black robes and boots, wet from the rain and mud filled, his face like a hungry tiger… lusting for her. He had a long mustache worthy of only those that had traveled to the mouth of the Nile, adventurers of old and deep, blue, penetrating eyes that clashed against flowing dark hair. He neared her, he looked at her eyes, fiery passionate eyes, and he kissed her hard.

        Here lay Annabelle sighing in a dreamy glee as Raul took Ramona. She moved her sofa closer to the television set, her eyes never peeling off from it. Now, Raul and Ramona were on the bed. Raul twirled Ramona's sweat ridden hair, a stamped cliché from every soap opera Annabelle had seen. Now came the moment of climax for this week's final episode. Ramona's father came bursting into the room with the plantation guard.

        "Go on," he said, angered, pointing at Raul. Ramona burst into tears, and Raul, half-naked, reached out for his sword. "Arrest that man!"

        The Indian guardsmen ran towards the naked man, and the naked man forced himself to a fight.

        Ramona clutched the sweaty bed sheets whilst crying. The battle erupted inside the bedroom, but was quickly stopped when one of the guardsmen kicked Raul's head and slammed him to the ground. Ramona's father was a very heavy man. A long moustache ran down his chin, and his deep dark eyes scanned the room.

        "Vile traitorous scum," he said as he grabbed Raul's neck and pulled on him to stand. "Bind him."

        Here the dramatic music took a dire tone as they bound Raul's body with ropes and threw him in the back of a two-horse driven carriage, and naked Ramona wept as it sped away. Her father's gaze of fury now turned towards her.

        "My name is Tristin Espada, and by God I will see to you later!" he spat and left the alcove. The end credits rolled by. The opera was over for the day.

        Annabelle was left in awe and shock, and she threw the controller at the television, cursing. Tears of anger ran down her wrinkled cheeks. It shattered on the ground and she cursed. Then she ran towards the shattered piece of hardware and tried to put it back to no use, so she deposited it in a small trash bin and headed for the pantry, where she kept a dozen or more backups. Upon opening the pantry, a flurry of remote controllers dropped from it and battered on the ground, but she did not mind. She gleefully removed the plastic cover on it.

        Now, with a new controller in hand, she headed back to the sofa and plopped down onto it. Annabelle's life consisted of soap operas; ever since her husband and son had left her all she had done was just that… sitting around all day in her trusty sofa, surfing each and every channel for soap operas. There were the Mexican soap operas, the Venezuelan ones, the realistic Brazilian ones, the American ones and even some good old fashioned Victorian British ones. Her friends were the lovers, her enemies the villains, her acquaintances the maids, her family were those that lived on the other side of the television screen. Her friends were the perfect friends, they were interesting, entertaining and never betrayed her, always there at six o'clock in the afternoon and others at seven, and the last troupe at nine, and they were from different parts of the world, also. Yes, she had everything she needed… but now they were gone until tomorrow and she stared blankly at the television set with old gray eyes, so hollow. Surfing the channels quickly, she got tired of it. She longed to see what had happened to Raul, she longed to see what will happen to Ramona, she longed to see Raul's second coming and taking of Ramona, and the always happy ending the soap operas offered. But they wouldn't come today, so once again, she was left with her sad life. Her eyes were moist, her belly protruded from underneath a folded blouse, her hair sweaty and unwashed. She no longer cared for herself, or her apartment for that matter, as the mess of remote controllers that had dropped from the pantry still lay there and the cat still meowed from hunger.

        The walls were dirty beyond washing as a long time had transpired since the last time she had smiled. During these idle times memories came back, memories from not so long ago when she was married and had a beautiful son. They made her cry, these moments, but her tears were zombie-like as she still surfed from channel to channel, seeking the perfect soap scene. Her husband had run away, taking her only son with him. The police had undergone a great investigation and had even reported the kidnapping to the central offices. Private detectives had been dispatched to no avail, and the case had been suddenly dropped. Both, the father and son, had been presumed dead, but Annabelle knew better. They had quarreled big that night, mostly due to monetary problems. Her husband had called her "an old fat cheat" and she had called him just a "bastard", she didn't know though—if her son had heard all of the fight. Maybe, she thought, after all, on TV little boys always heard their parents quarrel. Her husband had gotten madder that particular night than the nights before; he even slammed the top of the table with both of his fists and cursed obscenities at her. She had wanted to move, to move to a better place, but he didn't, he wanted to stay and work things out there in the big city. She knew that he felt he was a failure to his family, but she also knew that he had not been. The fight had ended abruptly with a very cold threat.

        "Don't you ever call me a bastard you hear, you bitch? I will leave here with Mario under my arms and you will never see us again."

        By then she had taken the threat lightly by calling him a bastard once more, which infuriated him.

        "I warned you," he had said. That was when she had started screaming loudly. The man hit her face hard and sent her plummeting to the ground. Semi-conscious, all she had heard was the faint screaming of her child and the broken footsteps of her maddened husband as he left the apartment, then, blackness.

        The memories caused her to sob loudly as she changed the channels hoping with all her strength that something interesting on TV might pop up. But no lives in manors and no lives of the rich and famous appeared, just static. It was then that she let the controller drop to the ground and fell into a trance. The static on the television set cast a white gloom against the darkened back wall. Tears were running down her cheeks; her dream was long gone… long gone… long—there was a sudden knock on the door and she fell out of the trance. At first she hesitated on getting up from the sofa to answer the door, something interesting might have popped up anytime on the television, after all. But then again her neighbors had been on her for a long time now, trying to move her out of her apartment and into a place where they could "take very special care with her". Her reaction to this was: "I don't need any care. I have all that I need here." And they had left her completely alone for some time, but it seemed that they were back. She was halfway to the door when she thought she heard a snort coming from the hallway outside. A slight hint of curiosity, something she hadn't felt in months, enveloped her. She had the notion of opening the door to find a lost puppy, a grown dog, a sick animal or even the postman this late at night; the snort must have been caused by a living being, after all. When she came to the door and turned the doorknob and pulled the door back… she faced a man… and a horse.

        She gasped. The horse whinnied loudly. The man hushed it and then turned towards her.

        He was a man whose face was hidden behind the darkness of a cowl. He spoke a mixture of English with a Spanish accent and he was dressed wholly in black. Though he was fully dressed, Annabelle could notice that underneath all those clothes was a perfectly formed body. The horse itself was as black as the night. It stood silently in the middle of the hallway, the hallway lights shining on its black fur.

        She walked backwards and the man pressed forward in strong and confident steps.

        "I've come to you, my love," he said in a trademarked manly voice. "I've come to you… my dear Ramona." And he lowered his cowl. And there stood Raul. She was flabbergasted. Was it a joke played upon her by her neighbors? She didn't know. Was the actor that played Raul in town? She didn't know. But who wouldn't notice a horse walking around a hallway in a no-pets-allowed apartment building? She was flabbergasted and also paralyzed by the event. The man tried to touch her, to calm her. She was in a trance of confusion and passion as the man kissed her neck passionately. His moustache tickled her neck, and she acted. She kissed him back passionately and before she knew they were rolling on the floor, door still open, horse still standing silent in the middle of the hall and clothes coming off from their bodies.

        They now laid on the floor breathing heavily, the man on her, playing with her sweaty hair and she still confused. But she was not Ramona, no, she was Annabelle! What had happened? Had she gone terribly mad? If so, then so be it. She had Raul. She happened to glance at the glowing digital clock on the wall. It was two past three in the morning. They had been together all night, and no other tenants had noticed the horse, the open door or the mysterious man in her apartment. Where they all in such a deep sleep? It was strange; she grew nervous.

        "Ramona," the man said, whispering lightly into her ear, "your father disapproves of our relationship, but I, Raul de la Tosca, will prove him otherwise. I shall fight him if I have to." Raul angrily shook a fist in the air.

        She melted, but then senses of reality hit her. What if this man was a lunatic? Would she be killed that same night? What if… wait… if he was here, then it meant…

        Yes, it meant that soon she would hear more horses coming and footsteps from across the hall, the clanking of metal cuffs and rapiers, and the visage of three men and one angry father on the shadow of the doorframe. Yes! It happened. The men on the doorway wore fierce looks, especially the fatter one. He wore a dark look on his face, one of anger and was staring intensively at both figures on the floor; he also had a sharp rapier on his hip, which he instantly unsheathed when he recognized the man that lay next to Annabelle.

        "Fiend," he muttered angrily, hatefully, spit coming out of that only syllable and he continued, "fiend! Infidel! As I gave you the opportunity to end your slavery! And you pay me with this?! You pay me with the bedding of my virginal daughter?! Trying to rob us of the purity of God, slave?!"

        Annabelle's mouth gaped wide in surprise and fear. This was all happening, no imagination, no white box, no paid cable or Mexican food commercials. Raul got up and faced the man. The man's bodyguards pressed upon him; they were Indians, or so they seemed, slaves to the man who held the sharp rapier. Each one was dressed in the slave clothing the soap opera portrayed and wore the same features as the extras that played the slaves on the opera.

        "I owe no one, Tristin Espada. I owe no one," he said with a sly grin. The man contorted his face angrily.

        "Take him," he ordered and the slaves were put into action. One of them punched Raul in the ribs while the other grabbed his hands, trying to bind him. Annabelle had gotten up from the floor and had hidden underneath the kitchen table. While the battle roared her white naked features were a silhouette against the mighty events. She grimaced as one of the men broke a crystal vase, water splashing on the wooden floor. Raul's muscles bulged; he was agitated. He crushed the hand of one of the men and the man slumped to the ground reeling in pain. Then Raul took the man's cuffs and slammed the other Indian in the face. There was only one left, Annabelle saw from her hiding place. This one got the upper hand and slammed the remaining crystal vase on Raul's head, sending him to the ground. There, Tristin Espada—her supposed father for this episode—took out his rapier and placed it on Raul's throat.

        "Bind him," he said coldly. "Arrest him for treason."

        The remaining Indian nodded and wrung his cuffs around Raul's wrists. Raul turned towards her and followed out of script.

        "I love you, Ramona. I will come to you! I came to you once today! I will come to you twice if need be! Or thri—"

        But Espada slammed the tip of his rapier against Raul's temple, making him reel back in pain and making blood trickle from the side of his head.

        "No talk for prisoners," he said and smiled sarcastically. Raul lay on the floor, heaving, his naked chest rising and falling rapidly. Annabelle still hid, naked, under the dining room table. It was then that Espada did the expected.

        "Take him to the brig," he said while he walked around the small apartment, his boots sodden with mud and his footsteps sounding heavy and loud. He stopped when he saw the quivering Ramona. He pointed at her fiercely and said, "And you, Ramona. My name is Tristin Espada, and by God I will see you later!"

        Then he turned around, ordered the Indian to carry the prisoner and went out the door, taking Raul's horse with him and his horses too, down the hallway, until the ding of the elevator was heard, then, the closing of the elevator door and the loud revving as the machine went down with excess weight… to the brig.

        "The basement," she whispered in her nakedness, feeling the stiff and cold breeze of death around her apartment. "That's the brig. I can save Raul."

        For the first time in a long time, Annabelle felt important. She quickly put on her old clothes and armed herself with what she found: a kitchen knife. Then she headed out the door, leaving it open, and running down the hallway, resisting the urges to wake up her neighbors. Somehow she felt she was the only one in that pocket dimension especially created for her. She reached the elevator and went inside, rapidly pressing the buttons that lead to the basement. The elevator whirred normally once more—having no excess weight—and played the annoyingly good jazz elevator music. She gripped the knife tightly, not knowing what she would find when the doors opened. When the elevator finally hit the lowest ground lever, it opened normally and she stared into the darkness of the warehouse-like basement.

        She walked two steps forward out of the elevator when she heard the tattling snort of the horses—which were probably tied and sleeping by now—and the laughter of men. The basement was full of old shelves stacked with empty paint cans, rolls of paper and what not that reached up to the ceiling, which was thirty feet high above her. It felt like going through a maze or a cave at first; she had never visited her building's basement before. She followed the sounds, and they grew louder and nearer as she walked. Then suddenly there was the hint of a small light, perhaps a fire made from old burnt papers. She stopped right there, and she saw the small makeshift camp the protagonists had made. There was Tristin Espada, laughing his head off with his Indian slave, speaking of conquests of long ago, and the Spanish Crusades, and worst of all… the treatment Tristin himself would give Ramona for betraying him and her chastity.

        "I will ban her from inheritance," he said, "and I will personally make sure she is institutionalized in a nut-house. That way the family name will be clear. The wench."

        What would a woman of a clichéd soap opera do at times like these? Ah…

        "Father," she whispered, loud enough to be heard. The men of the camp stopped their conversation, and she stepped out into the light of their small fire.

        "Father, I am so sorry I soiled the family's reputation, I shall put myself in a convent, and never shall you hear from me again… Oh, father." she said and wandered aimlessly towards Espada. Tristin looked at her, confusion beating him hard.

        "You say, eh?" he said. The Indian chuckled. Espada lowered his head for a moment and then raised it. His eyes seemed faintly misted.

        "You will never call me father again. You shall call me Mr. Espada. No more. I shall never hear from you or see you again, are we clear on that?" Espada said, calm and stern, as a man bred into a very calculated society would say.

        "If it is so," Annabelle replied, her voice taking a high note of sadness and irony, "please, will you grant me one last hug?"

        Espada hesitated, raising his head and gulping loudly, then staring at his companion. He nodded and went to her, putting his arms around her.

        Annabelle's turn had come. The weapon had been concealed very well enough not to be seen. Now the knife shone with the red blood of Espada, her supposed father. He groaned loudly. The Indian got up from his seating and stared curiously.

        "Wench…" was the last thing Espada said, and he dropped dead. Annabelle was left with a bloody knife and a bloody dress. She had never killed a man before—

        "Drop the weapon!"


        "Drop the damned weapon now!"


        "Drop the damned weapon!"

        The cop had appeared from nowhere. He stood where the Indian had stood once. The fire had gone away; the horses were not there. Annabelle (or Ramona?) stared confused at her surroundings. Her hands trembled and the knife went tumbling to the ground. But where Espada's body had been—there was another body, a different one. This one did not have a rapier or a black robe, but a set of brown work pants and brown work suit. It/He wore glasses, round rimmed and very heavy looking, and from its/his belly protruded a gaping wound, showing its/his innards. Annabelle gasped, this was not Espada: this was another man. The policeman signaled into the darkness and she was bathed in the light of a dozen flashlights, policemen. She stared blankly at nothingness for a moment as they cuffed her; she was out of her mind. She only heard the sole conversation:

        "…apparently the neighbors heard strange sounds last night and they sent two voluntary tenants—good friends of hers, by the way—to take a look at her. They knocked on the door, but she wouldn't answer. They could only hear the television inside play real loud and her laughter. They thought that she was happy, so she wouldn't mind if they barged in to check on her. She's been really nutty these days, you see… only watching television. Her whole family died off and that was the only thing she could do, poor thing. Anyways, they barged in, right? And she attacked them with a knife, killing the two of them. Their bodies are upstairs; it's wholly a murder scene up there. The third one that's lying here is her shrink. He was supposed to take her in today, but he found the bloody murder scene and ran… she followed after him and well… you see: grisly stuff. Ah well, let's go catch lunch. I hear they're serving a good fish sandwich over at Barlaby's."

        They hurled their cameras over their backs so the weight wouldn't bother them and put their notebooks under their arms, and she heard as they walked away.

        "But the horses…" she mumbled. And she was told to be quiet while they sorted out the paperwork.

        "But Raul…" she said. And she was told that Raul had been a product of her psychosis.

        Then they took her away, to the brig, where she would hurt no more. And to this day she still waits for Raul to save her. But she keeps waiting, and that episode never comes, nor does the happy ending.



copyright 2006 Peter J. Rosado.

Peter J. Rosado lives and writes in Puerto Rico.