Looking at Ecky was not the easiest thing to do, nor was it the hardest. Thinking about what happened to her, to make her look like this, was. All the memories I had of wishing her mouth was duct taped, that she would stop annoyingly repeating everything she heard, laid heavy on my heart and I wished, oh I wished, I would have been more tolerant of her 'gift.' That's putting it nicely.
Actually, we were friends of sort, Ecky, me, and Baby B, and together we made quite a team. I think part of her was a little jealous of how much love I got from Angel Face, but she never admitted to it, because the phrase, "You get all the attention," was never said in our house. In fact, Angel Face kept her words pretty quiet, at least around Ecky.
Ecky's body, or what was left of it that is, laid awkwardly on the counter as I watched Arly get ready to try and clean her. She had no legs or torso, just her head, with two gangly arms still attached by a rusted, metal bar. When Arly picked her up, her arms would wiggle back and forth like she was still trying to dig her way out of that dirt, or at least dig herself away from him. Her hair was matted with layers of dirt and it seemed to be twisted to one side like it had been given way too many layers of muddy Dippity Do. She was simply pitiful.
For a minute, I kinda prayed that maybe it wasn't Ecky with that darkly, scorched skin. But then, when I saw the expression on her face, and remembered the last words I heard her say, I knew it was her, my chatty friend Ecky, and it looked like she had gotten the worst of it from the Ten Man that night. As I lay my finger on her face it occurred to me why she, instead of me, would have gotten it so bad from him. Her 'gift' of speech could betray him, and betraying the Ten Man was like walking into a den full of Cotton Mouths, it just wasn't done.
Arly prepared me for the fact that she couldn't really save Ecky because she was missing too much of herself, and Arly wasn't a miracle worker. But I didn't say anything, I just watched her get cleaned up, put my arm around Baby B, and tried to grasp the enormity of what had happened to us, and why. I asked Arly if she could take a picture of the three of us, like we used to pretend to do for Angel Face and she said sure. Angel Face would have loved seeing us together again. Maybe not all mangled, but she would have loved it just the same.
Carefully, I leaned over and touched Ecky's face and I kind of felt that she might have realized she had been found and was surrounded be her friends again. Baby B just sat there looking stunned, with a tear rolling down her face, in silence. I told her to shrug it off and smile for the camera, which she tried to do, but her rusted eyes just seemed to be stuck all sad looking.
As the day drew to a close and Ecky and Baby B had been fixed up as much as Arly knew how, she asked if I wanted to talk about what had happened to them. She said by the shape that we were in, and how we were found, she knew something terrible had happened, and I just looked at her with this empty stare. There was no way I was going back there, no way I would relive the events that landed the three of us layers under the ground and left for dead. But most of all, I knew like I was breathing, that going back to that night meant reliving what happened to Angel Face, and what happened to her, was something that made what happened to us, seem loving. I just couldn't go there.