Pasayten Pete

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Vitelli's Hell

M. Vitelli froze in mid-step and stared, unbelieving, at the two figures holding hands, standing side by side on the altar of the small chapel. There were only the three of them there in the gloom. Vitelli spun around when the front door he had arrogantly left standing ajar slammed shut. The room reverberated with the sound. The interior gloom intensified. He could barely make out the walls of the small chapel, scarcely four strides to either side. The darkness seemed to close in around him, except for the altar ahead where a circle of pale light illuminated the wall. A cross mounted high upon it bore the carved figure of a crucified Christ. A statue of the Holy Virgin stood on her pedestal in the corner opposite the office doorway. The two motionless figures stood directly before him.

Stand! Heed Us!

The command thundered forth like the crash of doom. The words must have come from the mouth of the boy ... the young man. His mouth opened and his lips moved but the sound did not come from him. Rather, it seemed to issue forth from the very walls. It boomed and crashed in Vitelli's head. He sought to sneer, to stride forward and thrash this insolent youth, but he found himself frozen, paralyzed. He could not move his arms or legs. His rage became fearful apprehension. He could not believe this was happening.

A burst of hostility and anger swelled up within him. He glared at the figures, his eyes like weapons focusing his hatred at them. He willed them to fall, to submit, to cringe in terror before him. How dare they command me, these insolent whelps? Who are these peasant spawn to stand and confront me?

Graydon saw Vitelli's face contort with rage. Vitelli's eyes became two glowing orbs of evil, eyes of Satan, enlarged and glaring, flashing streams of fire. Two fiery streams shot forth and joined into a looped snare to grasp them, to fling them down. Graydon's aura flared and swelled, its golden sphere billowing forth. It crushed Vitelli's searing attack and quenched it. The flaming snare scattered in a shower of grey ash. Marilee stood unflinching, watching, waiting for Vitelli to fully commit his aggression against them.

Vitelli tried to shriek his frustration but his throat was frozen. No sound could issue forth. He gasped like a beached fish. His neck went rigid, hard like cold stone. He might have clutched at his throat but his hands would not move. His arms hung limply at his side. They felt to him like cold, lifeless sausages. A magma of seething hatred burned his heart; it labored frantically to keep Vitelli's body from collapsing.

The boy remained still, his golden aura shielding himself and the girl. A pale circle of light intensified around them. The light coming through the stained glass windows faded behind them. It seemed that an eclipse of the sun had darkened the world outside. Vitelli could see only the two children, the crucified figure of Christ, and the stately figure of Mary upon her column.

The circle of light shifted. It closed upon the girl and illumined only her. It brightened as she transformed into something larger. Her face changed, her hair grew darker, her robe hung loosely and was rent in tatters. As she grew her arms and legs revealed the grotesque outlines of another's bones outlined against her skin. She was no longer the girl. She became someone else.

She was Vitelli's long dead mother.

Approach me, my son!

Vitelli felt himself dragged forward, his feet sliding on the thin carpet. Neither his feet nor his legs could function except to hold him upright in a paralyzed stance. He slid forward until he would touch her face, if he could only lift his arm and extend his fingers.

Oh, God! Her face!

He saw two faces on that grotesque head: the face of his dead mother, and the contorted face of her forbidden love, the young priest she had lustfully seduced. The priest's face was contorted in agony, trapped inside the woman's face, straining and struggling inside her skin, seeking to burst forth and be free of his eternal curse.

Vitelli could plainly see the outlines of the young priest's bones moving just under the skin of his mother's arms, her neck, her exposed legs. Her arms shifted downward and her hands clutched and tore at something under her robe. In horror, Vitelli saw that she was tearing at the young priest's organ that jutted forth from under his mother's belly. She was tearing at it, shredding it. Rivulets of blood streamed down her legs from the wounds she inflicted on that obscene organ with the claws of her fingernails.

She shrieked into Vitelli's horrified face:

My loving son, flesh of my flesh, fruit of my womb, see how you have repaid your mother! See how you betrayed me with your spying, your betrayal, your cold selfishness. You exposed me to your father! He had us slaughtered, a sword run through us while joined upon our forbidden bed. See the condemnation you heaped upon us, my son!

Vitelli tried to close his eyes. They would not. He tried to raise his hands to cover his eyes. They remained frozen at the ends of his arms. He tried to turn his head aside. His neck was immobile, petrified. Utterly helpless, he could only watch as the horror before him shrank and faded. He gazed again upon the young girl. She stood impassively on the altar, her cold eyes boring into his panicked soul.

The light shifted again. Vitelli felt himself dragged sideways until he faced the young man. The light narrowed, brightened, and new horror appeared before him. The young man transformed into a visage of his father, growing until it towered over Vitelli so massively that it might fall forward to crush him into the floor. Its clothing hung in tears and tatters.

Through the shredded cloth Vitelli saw movement in and upon the flesh. He looked up to see his father's face. There he saw, wriggling outward from his father's empty eye sockets and gaping mouth, serpents reaching for him. Their forked tongues flickered to taste him. Their glowing eyes blazed forth at him. He felt terrible pain, felt their fangs sinking into his flesh and their scalding, flaming, burning venom. One serpent struck his neck. Another struck his shoulder, and another his arm. Two more struck his chest, another his belly; he stood helplessly and was consumed with unbearable agony. Their fangs tore at him; their venom burned him; his flesh dissolved into a thousand overlapping, putrid craters.

My beloved son!

His father's voice whispered forth from a gaping, hollow mouth. The serpents withdrew, retreating into his father's body. The pain remained. Vitelli would be shrieking in agony but his voice was gone. His body writhed in pain, his mind screaming in voiceless silence. Then his father's voice emerged as a small thing, a candle in the dark.

My beloved son! You now receive my blessing! Despite your betrayal, your blackmail, your threats, and your final gift of exposing me to my enemies, I have returned with my gift for you. Carry its venom through eternity. Each serpent is your doing, each one a deed done to me. They slither without number; they return the gift of your poison. Each drop is your essence; each serpent your deed. I return them to you, each to you for each to me. Cherish them. They are your finest creation!"

Vitelli's head erupted in shrieking torment. Outwardly he was silent but inwardly his ears burst. The fires of his venom erupted anew; they would burn forever. Death would bring no relief. His reward was eternal.

The light dimmed again. He saw the young man standing before him, his eyes judging him. That stare quenched the fires of his pain with cold dread. He saw himself being judged with pity.

Vitelli's eyes jerked upward to the carved figure of Christ upon the cross. The figure looked down upon him with living eyes. Vitelli saw in those eyes his ultimate damnation, Christ grieving for his lost soul.

His eyes jerked aside to the corner where soft, silver light caressed the statue of Mary. She regarded him with sorrow, tears streaming down her face.

His world dissolved in agony and despair. He was unconscious before he collapsed to the chapel floor.

He awoke to find Father Ambrose kneeling beside him with a washbasin of warm water, a soft cloth in his hand. He washed Vitelli's face, his neck, his hands. Vitelli thought he had never before felt anything so comforting as that soft cloth, the warm water, and the gentle touch of the old priest's hands.

He tried to thank the priest but his throat would not respond. He inhaled a deeper breath, and tried again to speak. His jaw moved, but his voice was gone. He could exhale air, but make no sound. Nothing. Neither a gasp, a groan, or a sob would issue forth. He could, if he tried very hard, utter a mournful sigh but even that was weak, imperceptible, utterly unheard more than a hands-breadth away. He tried to raise his hand to his throat. He could not lift his arm, or his hand, or move his fingers. All were limp, useless. Neither arm nor hand nor finger would respond to his will.

Fr. Ambrose lifted the small, stricken man and set him upright in a pew. He gazed silently at Vitelli, studying the small man's face. Vitelli gazed back, mutely, unable to comprehend what had afflicted him. He sat fearfully still, slowly testing whichever parts of his body might yet respond to his command. His body stiffened to hold himself from falling. His legs moved, but weakly. He could not trust them to support himself without staggering and falling. He tried again to speak to the priest, but he was mute. He could not move his lips to form words. His tongue, his lips, his mouth, none would respond. Only his jaw wagged up and down in a grotesque caricature of speech.

Vitelli tried to summon rage within himself to scream protest against his damnation but even that was denied him. No rage, no hate, no lust, no pride, no emotion would swell up within him. He was an empty husk. He was eviscerated. Emotionally, he was gutted like a fish on ice at the market.

He stared bleakly at the priest who stood watching him. Vitelli raised his eyes to the figure of Christ on the cross. It held no life. It was nothing but carved wood. He looked to the corner where the statue of Mary stood lifeless as a finely-carved statue with gilded, painted robes. Her face, beautiful and sad, was streaked wet with tears.

Graydon escorted Marilee to her home and sat with her while she told her parents that they could live their lives free of any concern or worry. The threat was gone.

"Pumpkin, you and Graydon were gone for a long time today. Where did you two go? And why do you say anything about a threat? How do you know what Father Ambrose came to tell us? You were not here, and you should know nothing of that?"

Marilee smiled sweetly at her father. She would never lie to him, but she was born with the wisdom and wiles every young daughter inherits from her mother.

"I sensed that something was troubling you and mother, so I asked Graydon if he would mind going to chapel with me. We prayed together, that any hazard to our family would be removed, that we might be allowed to live in peace. Father Ambrose helped us. It was so wonderful! Our prayers were answered!"

M. Vitelli's agents took turns driving the heavy black sedan eastward on the highway leading away from the valley. They dared not ask, and even if they did, there would be no answer. The small man with the hawk-nosed face sat half paralyzed in the luxurious leather seat behind them. He had not spoken a word since they picked him up at the chapel. Fr. Ambrose had led M. Vitelli to the car and assisted him into the seat where he sat unmoving and silent. The old priest gave the two men careful instructions to return their superior to his home offices. He cautioned them that Vitelli had suffered some inexplicable shock to his system and was gravely indisposed. With no appropriate medical facilities in the valley, the priest advised the agents that they should drive straight through to the large hospital in Spokane.

"Go without delay. He will be fine for several hours, but after that he will require special nursing assistance. A physician will give you a complete report, I'm sure. We will pray for his welfare."

After they drove away, Fr. Ambrose returned to the sanctuary of his office and made a telephone call.

"Jim? Please tell Mike that the youngsters are fine. Marilee is home and Graydon will stay with them for awhile this evening. Vitelli is gone. He will cause no trouble for anyone, ever again. He will do well to survive a while longer in this life. I'm sure he'll be in no hurry to face the next life.

"Marilee said she would tell her parents that they came to chapel to pray for the safety and peace of her family. You might say she did just that. Her prayers were most perfectly answered."

Vitellis_End < <> > Reunion

Pasayten Pete © Graybyrd 2010

Last modification: 2016/8/25 at 19:28