Her navy blue suit jacket swung on the hook attached to the roof in the back seat as she cut the wheel and sped away from the place where the air-conditioning worked when it felt like it. It was only thirty-five minutes from here to the office. She had timed her new place at forty-six minutes. Even if it were an hour and forty-six minutes, she still would be moving, and moving up, very soon.
She attached the earpiece to her cell phone before reaching 95 North because it would only be about a minute later that her mother would call. Until then, she searched for a traffic report.
“There was yet another assault in Harrison County yesterday,” said the announcer. “The victim was again a female in her early 20′s. She is still in intensive care with internal injuries and a severe concussion. The attacker dragged her out of her car and into a wooded area. Fortunately, a passing motorist witnessed what was –”
“Hi Mom,” Melissa said as she clicked on her phone and off the radio.
“Hi, Dear. You on your way to work?”
Melissa smiled and rolled her eyes. “You call me at the same time every day.”
“So what’s on your schedule for today?”
“Same stuff,” she said. “Cleanings, x-rays, probably get bit by a kid. And some old guy will probably put his hand on my butt.”
“Are you serious?” gasped her mother.
“Oh yeah. I’m due for a few bites and feels this week.”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t work there.”
“Mom. I’m kidding. Relax. You got me out of my apartment. Let’s take one thing at a time. I can’t talk now. I’m running late, and I want to hear the traffic report. And I don’t like to talk when it’s raining.”
What had been a drizzle was now growing into a steady rain.
“Okay,” her mother said. “Call me when you get to work so I know you made it.”
“Sure. Ring you once. Bye.”
Melissa thought more about the longer drive from what would soon be her new condo. The expressway was quicker, but there was also a toll. County Road 152 was about fifteen minutes longer, but it was free. “Free,” she thought, “or $1.50 a day, times five days a week, times fifty weeks, that’s $375 a year. I could skip the tolls, leave early, and that would pay for my coffee and bagel all year.”
Before she could disagree with herself, her engine sputtered and stuttered a few times but then continued. Stalling on the I-95 would be rather dangerous because there was no shoulder on this stretch, so she said a small prayer that she’d make it off the highway and to the county road safely.
Melissa loved numbers, and she knew it was exactly fourteen point seven five miles to the office once she exited 95. Ten of those miles were along the thick trees of County Road 152. Every one of those ten miles was deer territory. She allowed no radio and took no phone call until she was beyond 152 because all of her attention needed to be on the lookout for “Bambi.” Today, however, the needs of her engine outweighed the need of the wild life.
Halfway across 152, her engine quit. Dad’s Toyota came to rest on a grassy shoulder where not one house was visible. She knew each connecting street, but at the moment she was not near any of them. She was not accustomed to and had no tolerance for a break in her routine.
As she was still guessing whether or not the closest house was either ahead of or behind her, she instead almost slap herself in the head as she remembered her cell phone. She hit the speed dial for work but didn’t hear the ring she expected. “No signal” was on the screen. She looked at the thick trees on the right and the wall of water now streaming down the windshield, making the trees looked like a Salvador Dali painting. As she turned to the driver’s side, she let out a short scream. There was a knock on the glass and a face looking in. She caught her breath, eased her pulse, and glanced left to be sure the door was locked.
“You okay?” asked a dark man in a hat. She didn’t panic. She held up her phone.
“I,” she choked, “I just called my husband. He’ll be here in a few minutes.” She watched to see if he had believed her. “Thanks, Sir. Thank you for stopping.”
The man’s hat was pulled low. Water ran off the brim. He looked left and right, stood, and rubbed his face like someone who had just woken up. “Ok,” he said. “Good luck.” The rain prevented her from seeing him clearly. She thought she saw facial hair, but he was gone. She reached for a pen in the glove compartment and scribbled on the back of a napkin. “Black male, 200 pounds, red jacket, grayish dirty hat, jeans, brown boots.” She peered into the side view mirror. “Limping. Old blue pick up.” The old blue pickup moved around her and headed off. She couldn’t read the license plate through the downpour, but she was content that she had something helpful for the police.
Melissa clicked the radio back on and waited for another news report or anything to erase the sound of the rain. “And don’t forget our news-spotter hotline. Just press star-1-0-6-0 from your cell phone if you see news, traffic, weather, or anything else that you think we should know.”
She was about to call until she remembered having no signal. As she put her phone down, a white car pulled in front of her and slowly backed up, almost touching her front bumper. Melissa smiled as she peered through the wet windshield at a BMW emblem on the trunk. She smiled more when she dropped her foggy window to reveal a very handsome man with an umbrella.
“Need some help, Miss?” he asked with perfect teeth.
“Um. Uh. Help? Y-yes,” she fumbled.
“Any idea what’s wrong?”
“Wrong?” she said slowly. “No.” She knew that the real problem was how to get his phone number without being obvious.
“Pop the hood and I’ll take a look,” the pretty man said. She fumbled on the floor for the hood latch. She pulled both the trunk and gas tank lid before finally hearing a loud “clack” as the hood jumped up an inch. The man with the umbrella walked to the front of her car and easily lifted the hood.
She jumped out of the car and dashed to join his shelter, moving as close to him as possible. He looked under the hood at what Melissa interpreted as various sizes of metal and rubber with various degrees of road grime. She watched impressed as he scanned the engine, occasionally touching parts and wiggling things. She admired him more as he blurted things like “hmmm, okay,” and “not sure about that.”
The umbrella occasionally moved away from her, but she quickly followed it. He smiled when that happened. Her arms instinctively wrapped across her chest as the rain and cool breezes teased her body. He watched her feeble attempt to cover herself, and the umbrella moved again.
“See this?” he asked, pointing at what appeared to her as a random car part. “Feel how hot that is.” She reached as far as she could without putting her skirt against the wet car. When she almost toppled over, his hands were very ready to grab her hips and pull her back from the car. The combination of three-inch heels and muddy ground put her directly in his arms, looking up at his wonderful face.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, struggling to regain her balance.
Her eyes were so focused on him that she barely heard when he said, “Don’t be sorry,” he breathed. “I’m not.” He studied her face, and she adored his. “Lock your car, get your keys. C’mon. I’ll give you a ride.” She said nothing, just nodded and did as she was told while he studied her skirt.
A few miles away, in a far less pretty part of town, a man with a red jacket, grayish dirty hat, wet jeans, and soaked brown boots limped away from his old blue pickup truck. Inside his wife of forty years was responsible for the heavenly smell of bacon that greeted him even before he entered their leaky, one-bedroom home. She turned as she did every morning to smile at him as he returned from work. Her usual “Welcome home, Honey,” was cut short when she did not see his usual smile.
“What’s wrong, Honey?” she asked, keeping the spatula over the frying pan so no bacon grease dripped on her foot. He shook off the rain and cold that he had brought with him before giving her a stronger than his usual bear hug. When he backed away, she could see something different in his eyes.
“A car was broke down on 152. Young woman all alone. I tried to help her, but I could see she was — kind of — afraid.” The woman couldn’t tell if he was crying or just wet from the rain.
“Honey, don’t you fret none. You did the best you can. If she didn’t want your help, then that’s her bad luck.” She kissed him on the cheek and removed his dripping wet hat. Then she kissed him on his shaved head as he bowed it in prayer.
“Lord, I hope you got that girl somewhere safe this morning. I tried. Amen.” Silently, he added to the prayer. Why was I born looking like this, making people so afraid of me? Why, Lord?
Each time the white BMW took another turn, Melissa again thought about how he was not following her directions.
“I’m going to be late,” she mildly protested.
He said nothing, but again he gave her his glorious smile.
Article © Richard Voza. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-12-27
He stared at the wall with a cold sigh, a thousand thoughts rushed to his minds as his feet got heavier and the air around him got denser. He looked around but found no sympathy in the eyes of the spectators. They were silent and seemed to stare right through him, like he didn’t even exist. There was no angry crowd or a media team ready to record his momentous words; it was nothing like in the movies he saw as a child. The room was dark and the only light was of a small window near the ceiling. He stared at the window to catch a glimpse of the sun that would set him free but it was in vain as he was pushed towards the stage. The clatter of the fetters was the only music he had heard in such a long time that he ignored the push and just smiled thinking, how there was a day when he wouldn’t have had given a damn to such a little pleasure of life.
There were a total of 7 people in the room other than him, he recognized none of them. From their uniforms some of them looked like high ranking officials but somehow it didn’t matter to him, not anymore. For now he knew that one day nothing would matter and they would all be equal 6 feet under. He was to die a nameless death but it didn’t matter anymore… “It was worth it”, he thought as he stood on the marked spot. His shackles were removed and set aside. As he caressed his aching wrists he heard one of them whisper something. “You know it’s rude to whisper in a” but he was silenced with a punch to the stomach before he could finish his sentence. He smiled how they still couldn’t hear the truth.
“Any last words or regrets?” he heard one of them ask in a sneerful voice
“Those who seek forgiveness for their sins have regrets. Those who are in the right have no regrets or sorrows, General. Today you pass your judgment on me; tomorrow God will pass judgment on you. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, from this Earth we all come and to it we shall all return.”
“Still stuck on your ideals I see? Corporal…”
He stared at the first rays of dawn as a blindfold was placed around his eyes.
“Lieutenant Ray, you have been accused of mutiny and treason. You have been sentenced to be shot at sunrise by the Military court of…”
“Save me the speech…” He said as he closed his eyes beneath the blindfold and thought of his life.
The speaker however chose to ignore his taunt and carried on. After a few moments he stopped. Ray knew it was time for he could feel the warmth of the sun on the horizon,
“READYY!!!” He heard the shout
Ray smiled as he thought about his ideals, the revolution and pumped out his chest in arrogance.
Dozens of bullets passed through his body into the wall but he didn’t feel any pain… There was nothing but nirvana.
“Why are you so afraid? Why can’t you let me in?”
“Why can’t you share? Don’t you trust me?”
“Of what? That what you say won’t remain a secret?”
“No… of you… leaving me…”
“You see I can share the world with you, just not my world… for I’m afraid… afraid that you will uncover the true me to be nothing more than a common man, afraid and alone, surrounded in a mist of lies and a pretence of valor.”
“Ha, so you’re saying the man I fell in love with is nothing more than a common human?”
“At the end of the day aren’t we all? Today you saw something special in me tomorrow you may see an…”
There was the sound of a slap and everything went quiet. The cold winters air silently swept across the plane of oblivion, dusting away all signs of warmth and in the middle stood she with her fists still clenched from anger and adrenaline rushing through her veins.
“Hahaha, it’s only logical…”
“That I would fall in love with someone else?”
“It’s only human nature”
“Nature has its ways with us true, but to think that it has a way with love? Who are you?”
“I dunno… I wish I was a sailor sailing miles away dreaming about his girl and the warmth of her breath as she gently kissed him. Yet here I am inches away from you with swearing it would still be the same even light years away…”
“You know they said love was the strongest force in this universe but in my search for it all I found was the sorrow and tears of weaklings afraid to lose what they desired.”
“You never searched for love, for if you did you would not stand here and talk to me about logic
“Logic is not the enemy of the heart…”
“It is a disease that feeds on love. You in your pride mention love and its weakness yet are so blind sighted to see that those who you saw never loved at all…”
“Love is not about closure… it’s about the immense joy one feels even while they are in constant pain… It’s about sacrificing everything just to see the other person happy… it’s about burning your own world with the hope of becoming a slave in someone else’s… You don’t wish to be with the master yet you always wish to serve them… You sought what you thought to be the easiest to seek, love is not around you, it is in you… Find yourself and perhaps you will find love… And when that day comes, come looking for me and even if I am not here, my love for you will be but at that point you will just smile at the irony as your heart shatters into a million pieces and you walk away as if nothing happened…”
With that she left not looking back while he just stood there as the cold wind slowly died down and the sun slowly peeked from the horizon ready to spread its warmth.
Written by Dev!l
He stared at the ceiling as the class commenced. Funny how a classroom filled with bodies seemed empty to him… but then again that’s all they were to him… bodies.
“Mr. Ray? Care to join us?”
“Uncertainty” he replied without taking his eyes off the ceiling.
“Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is violated therefore the term is not physical and the second term is not localized, so only the third term remains and that’s our answer.” he replied casually still lost somewhere in the ceiling.
The teacher stared at him, cleared his throat and said, “Yes… Yes. Problem solved, class dismissed.”
Everyone got up and left but him… He just sat there with his head tilted backwards.
His cell phone buzzed and buzzed but he didn’t bother. There was no reason to bother for he knew on the other side was someone, self obsessed with his own life wanting to catch up with his just to fulfill some social protocol.
The buzzing continued, irritated he picked it up and turned it off. There was no point left sitting there anymore as his peace was disturbed. “Might as well walk among the hollow dead.” He thought to himself as he picked his bag up and went outside.
“Hey lost bunny” a cheerful voice called after him. He slowed down but didn’t bother to reply.
“You know it’s rude to ignore your girl friend slash fiancée.”
“If I had turned around to greet you, you would had had found something else that I was being rude at. So, what’s the point if you’re gonna assume what you want in the end anyways?” He spoke softly.
“Seriously, sometimes I do wonder how come a cheerful girl like me ended up with a boring bum like you.”
He chose to ignore her and simply walked towards the railing.
“You know I never know what you find so fascinating about just standing there looking at the ground below.”
He cracked a small smile, pulled out a piece of paper from his bag and wrote something on it.
“Oh look at the great Einstein, developing his equations. Anyhow, today is Smith’s birthday what are you getting him?”
“Smith? Your childhood friend?”
“Oh, yea… here take this.” He folded the paper and handed it to her.
“Read it aloud and know that you’re a moron and I love you.” He said with a huge grin on his face.
She was taken aback by his reaction nevertheless she opened the paper and started to read
“I always wanted to know how it would feel like to jump down from this railing. How hard would my heart beat? How fast will I fall? Would I cry or laugh? Or would I be afraid… But I never had the freedom to find out. I always preferred surrounding myself with people who always understood what they desired and be critical of every step I took.”
“What the hell is this?” She clutched the paper more angrily
“Hahahaha, just read on it’s a story I’m working. An unknown person commits suicide and leaves behind a letter but I can’t imagine how the main characters would react to it.”
“I always built castles not in hopes to keep intruders out but to challenge those who wished to enter. They say that those who think they are misunderstood are the biggest fools of them all but unfortunately people with no souls can’t understand… they are obsessed with their own selves so much that they have lost themselves in the process. Their dreams and passions are decided by logic and their logic by their obligation to society and self importance; I refuse to be surrounded by such hollow straw men. Do not think I am giving up… No, I am just trying my right to be free… Free to be wretchedly alone and in this world I can’t find a single place where I can find the peace of mind to be alone.”
“Uh, so? What do you want me to do now?”
“Nothing, just complete my story…” He smiled and jumped off the railing hysterically laughing with joy.