This is the beginning of “The Black River,” a manuscript written by Jovon Scott and edited by Larry L. Franklin. We are close to completing the manuscript. Hope you enjoy.
“THE BLACK RIVER”
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
This is a work of fiction, a psychological thriller to be exact. The fact that it could have happened is not that farfetched. Any time we delve into the mysteries of the human mind, we marvel at our saneness. After all, the human brain has over 100 billion nerve cells called neurons that communicate with other neurons through a substance called neuro-transmitters. This enables us to do all of the things that we consider humanly possible — drink a cup of coffee, climb a mountain, or if we’re one of the lucky ones, calculate the size of the universe. It is here where sanity and insanity are controlled by DNA, life experiences, medication, street drugs, sex, and fate.
The human brain serves as a hotbed for the characters — some real and some not. The main character is Dr. Tianna Smith, a psychologist who suffers from a serious mental illness and creates imaginary people. Each character, whether real or not, is pictured as a sane individual with the typical social interactions humans face. As the story develops, the secrets will gradually unfold, providing the reader with a clear understanding of where we are headed.
Victoria watched the rough-water hug the riverbank. The sun retired for the day and the river gave birth to short bursts of waves that threatened the shore. Mother Nature’s elements of tranquility and destruction were on full display. Victoria’s eyes pierced the water’s surface as she studied the river snaking through pastures and open plains. Barricades dared not to confine its flow.
When Victoria was young, large bodies of water threatened her well-being. So much so that she barred herself from diving into the mysteries that lie below the river’s surface. Time revealed the reason for her fears. Someone or something lived in the darkened waters that threatened her safety. But don’t blame Victoria for having a dysfunctional childhood and an overly creative mind. Her brain was hardwired to think irrationally.
Something was off that day; a gut-wrenching and unnerving kind of off. Victoria blamed herself for what happened when she met Chanel at the river. While all of the signs were there, it was a time of confusion when 2 equals 1.
“Are you scared?” Chanel asked. “You’re shaking.”
Victoria knew that she was afraid. As the two of them stood on the water’s edge watching the currents race by, there was an eerie silence. Victoria didn’t know why, but she had told Chanel that she wasn’t afraid.
Chanel had an energy that was quite alluring; an adrenaline junkie who danced along the edges of danger. Each adventure was accompanied by a spiritual energy as if she was suddenly reborn. Her breathing became more labored and her heart was on fire. Victoria grabbed Chanel’s hands that were cold and unwelcoming as if she had touched a stranger. They faced each other; so close that their heartbeats were in unison. As their lips touched, Victoria remembered the passion that burned deep into her soul; spellbound and persuaded by the words that Chanel never spoke; eyes that shared a telling tale; and private things that remained hidden from the world.
Chanel’s demeanor morphed into an emptiness disconnected from reality. Is this the person who Victoria had known to be Chanel, or was she an illusion?
“Do you love me?” Chanel questioned. She gripped Victoria’s hand tighter as if she dared her to tell a lie.
“Of course, I love you,” Victoria answered. But the grip of Chanel’s hand was different, causing Victoria to wonder if Chanel had become a complete stranger. At the moment, Victoria did not fear the river. She was more afraid of the entity she perceived to be Chanel.
“Why would you ask if I loved you?” Victoria asked.
“Because I need to know.”
“Yes, I love you. But you know that already. You’re acting strange and freaking me out,” Victoria admitted.
Chanel’s laugh was accompanied by a sinister smile. “If you love me, jump, jump into the river,” Chanel commanded. “Love is all about trust, right?”
“I will drown,” Victoria replied. “I can’t swim, you know that.”
“Trust me,” Chanel explained.” I would never allow anything bad to happen to you.”
Victoria felt overcome by emotions knowing that she needed to escape before it was too late. While she remembered fragments of what happened that day, she preferred to believe that Chanel pushed her into the river. Given Victoria’s fear of the river, that made more sense. But reality told a different story. Victoria jumped into the river.
Stupidity is oftentimes driven by ignorance, a compelling force that causes us to defy logic. Perhaps a need to display her courage was why Victoria jumped into the river, or was it love interlinked with confusion?
A blind fondness accompanied by faith creates the foundation for love. But reckless love ignores your core, leaving you to think only of the image you desire; the one that caused Victoria to jump into the river.
Chanel stood on the shore watching Victoria struggle to evade the adversity she had feared since her childhood — drowning in the river. Her attempts to scream were muffled by the sheer volume of water. Most people who fear the possibility of death by drowning, stay away from large bodies of water. But not Victoria, she jumped into the river.
Victoria’s mind held no clarity or reasoning for what was happening to her. She felt the burning sensation a body experiences when your lungs take on water. The image of the river changed as she began to accept her fate. The deeper parts of the river were calm and without motion, unlike the chaotic movements of the river’s surface. The struggle to survive diminished as her body sank towards the river’s floor.
Victoria remembered seeing Chanel through the water’s surface; lips parted with a smile on her face. At that moment Victoria’s heart no longer beat; not from drowning but from a broken heart. Chanel killed Victoria before the water filled her lungs and severed her oxygen supply.
She then experienced a more peaceful world as her body embraced the river’s floor. She looked up through the surface and saw Chanel standing at the water’s edge. No longer angered. Victoria was at peace. Now as Victoria accepted her fate, she saw the two of them standing side by side; both one in the same, when 2 equals 1.
ONE YEAR EARLIER:
It was in the early hours of the morning when the city was stirring with party-goers, drug addicts, and the homeless who were looking for a place to sleep. Except for a few travelers on their way home, the streets were filled with police cars and ambulances looking to salvage another night in the city.
An ambulance raced down the streets with lights flashing and sirens blasting, hoping to make it to the Mount Rush Hospital in time. The paramedic in the back of the ambulance told the driver to go faster; the woman might not survive.
“We have a female patient suffering from a drug related overdose, believed to be heroin,” the paramedic said as the patient was being moved from the ambulance to the emergency room. A doctor entered the room and flashed a light into the woman’s eyes to determine if they were dilated; a common clue for a drug overdose.
“Get an I.V. going. I need her vitals asap. Start the reversal drug immediately,” the doctor ordered as the medical staff went to work, knowing that there was a small window to save her. While the woman’s pulse was faint, she was still alive. Her name was Chanel Rosenthal.
“Chanel, how much did you take?” the doctor asked. “I need to know.” As the nurse added the solution to her I.V., Chanel responded in gibberish. She then leaned over the bed and vomited onto the floor. This was a typical day for Chanel. She frequently found herself in the Mount Rush Emergency Room where the doctors and nurses knew her well.
Chanel found these roller coaster rides to be exhilarating. She cherished the altered state of mind, shifting from one reality to another. For her, the drug overdose was mind blowing; releasing the beatitudes that opened the path to a spiritual awakening; and being on the edge, the place that society deemed to be life threatening. Chanel asked only for the freedom to be herself.
Hours passed before Chanel opened her eyes. She scanned the room as memories of her night flashed through her mind. While only fragments, they began to tell a story: Chanel had gone to one of her favorite clubs, listened to music, had drinks topped off with coke, followed by a heavy dose of heroin. She was no stranger to blackouts or being strapped to hospital beds after drug overdoses. Although she had teased death on multiple occasions, killing herself was not a conscious choice. She just loved being high, drunk, and the short bursts of ecstasy driven by emotional orgasms.
The thought of death had never discouraged Chanel from her chosen lifestyle. While she barely survived many life-threatening experiences, there were no regrets. Circumstances had always returned her to the living. Her mind had been plagued with so much trauma and torment that an adjustment of her brain’s wiring was an escape.
Except for the fact that they had been killed, Chanel knew nothing about her parents. The man who raised her was a father figure, providing her with a different perspective on fatherhood. When he died, Chanel was placed into foster care, another life experience gone amiss. This was where Chanel’s young mind was introduced to the ugly side of life.
The poverty-stricken slums of Chicago catered to degenerates and the altered minds of most adolescences. The child-care system was the equivalent to a prison for children. Chanel embraced her rebellious ways and became the epitome of a destructive, unpredictable teenage menace; possibly the worst case in the group home. When Chanel turned 18, psychologists and psychiatrists considered her to be socially disconnected from reality.
As time passed, Chanel became engrossed in drugs and sex while chasing that first high; a high that she could never match no matter how hard she tried. Despite the drug abuse, Chanel was a beautiful woman. Her appearance was the ultimate bait in reeling in men to play out her lifestyle. While it was a reflection of her behavior, she never thought of it as being repugnant. Sex was only a deflection allowing her to dissociate from her conscious thoughts.
Chanel’s five-foot five-inch frame, shoulder-length hair, and thick lips added to her sex appeal. Perhaps her dark-colored eyes accompanied by an alluring gaze were the ultimate mystery that grabbed your attention.
“Chanel Rosenthal, I guess you must like us here at the Mount Rush Hospital?” Nurse Jamie asked as she and the doctor walked into the room.
“I’m thinking that you have a thing for me, Doc. We can’t keep meeting like this,” Chanel joked with a half-hearted smile.
“Are you trying to kill yourself or are you just in dire need of some attention?” the Doctor asked.
“Now you sound like Doctor Phil. Dying isn’t easy for me. I’ve tried more times than you can imagine,” Chanel replied.
The Doctor proceeded to make his case for survival. “Maybe self-sabotaging isn’t for you. I can tell you next time you try to kill yourself, you may succeed. Here’s something you need to do for yourself, stop using. Look at this x-ray.”
The Doctor held the film up to the light. “If you look near the heart, you’ll notice a dark area the size of a golf ball. That’s called an aneurysm which is a blood-filled bulge in your blood vessel. If this were to erupt, you’d die from eternal bleeding. It’s a miracle that it hasn’t already killed you. You don’t need surgery. It’ll go away on its own if your heart isn’t forced to do unnecessary work. When you shoot drugs, it forces your body to regulate the body temperature, heart rate and other things. So, if you want to live, no more drugs. I can give you information on where to find help, but you already know these things.”
“I didn’t know it was that bad,” Chanel answered with a measure of concern.
“Yeah, it’s very bad,” the Doctor replied. “You’re young and beautiful with your entire life ahead of you. Make something of it and do yourself a favor, stay alive.” With that said the doctor left Chanel to think about her mortality. She closed her eyes and explored her thoughts. She didn’t want to die. While she didn’t have a lot to live for, maybe one day that would change. She at least owed herself that. She’d never attempted to quit, but the stories she heard from recovering addicts was something she wasn’t ready to experience. It’s a shame how people don’t get the chance to choose who brings them into this world. Her mother was dead, and her father was a piece of dysfunctional shit. When Chanel felt a tear fall from her eye, it became real. Only Chanel could save herself.