some fall in love. i shatter.

Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Taking Flight (#9)

In Stories Volume 1 on April 30, 2012 at 8:30 am

Rex Marvin Albert, age 71, died at his home in Jasper, Mississippi on Wednesday, April 29.  The cause of death was a heart attack, though in a note that he carried pinned to his shirt pocket and that had been dated ten days earlier, Rex forecasted that he would soon die from a case of “completeness and contentedness.”

Born February 12, 1938, in Devil Springs, Colorado to James and Daniella Albert, Rex spent most of his life working quite successfully in the Sales Department of Exclusive Life Insurance.

Rex is survived by Judith Henderson, his wife of ten days.

A viewing will be held at Crisper & Johnson’s Funeral Home on Melville Avenue from 10am to 2pm and from 5pm to 9pm on Saturday, May 2.

The funeral service will be held at St. Stephen’s on Longfellow Road in Jasper on Sunday, May 3, at 10am.

Rex made no secret that his goal in life was to find true love; a love that would not let go once embraced.  He frequently encountered various forms of love that he ultimately found wanting but, as he would say towards the end of his life, he regretted no actions, no decisions, no choices; each one was a step on the path that led him to Judith Henderson.  Rex believed the best we can do is hope that true love lies as a point on the map of our lives and that we stumble upon it.

Rex understood that the course of his life made him the man that he became, the man that Judith was looking for, the man that Judith could love so much.  He never claimed to be perfect except in saying that he had become perfect for her.

Rex believed in true love and true happiness, and in Judith Henderson, Rex knew that he had found both.  He knew this meant that he was not long for this world as such a thing of grace, he often said, cannot survive in such conditions.  In the last months of his life, Rex spoke frequently of his happiness and how even in death, he would remain happy for knowing Judith as long as he did.

Before passing away, Rex requested: “Please do send flowers to Judith but don’t do it all at once. This will surely be a difficult time for her but flowers are not for difficulty, they are for beauty, and Judith deserves beauty above all else – it is her only honest reflection.”

Flowers can be sent to 227 Maplethorpe Ln, Jasper, MS 57505.

 

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A Measure of Luck (#8)

In Stories Volume 1 on April 23, 2012 at 8:28 am

I heard a muffled bang and my vision dimmed; just another lightbulb popping and my office falling into shadows.  Sheila, my office girl, had been too busy with her boyfriend to stock the supply closet.  I knew because she hadn’t handed in a receipt for reimbursement.

“Sheila!”  Nothing.  “Sheila!”  Her silhouette appeared behind the frosted glass of the office door.  She was a looker but I was trying to separate business from pleasure.

“Watcha need, Sam?”

“Look different in here?”  Her big, brown eyes drifted lazily across the floor and ceiling.

“It’s a little darker?”

“Yeah, it’s a little darker.  Another bulb has blown.  You haven’t bought anymore, have you?”

“I ain’t had a chance yet, Sam.  Been filing the agency taxes and dealing with the police paperwork for that shooting the other week.  Those things take forever.”  She was partially lying; she handled those things but they didn’t require that much time of her.

“I know, sweetheart, but only part of this job requires a certain atmosphere and I believe we’ve surpassed that point.  Those clouds outside ain’t gonna break today, meaning it ain’t getting any brighter, meaning you should go out and buy some lightbulbs.”

“You got it, Sam.  Right away.”  She turned and swung the door shut on her pencil skirt and nearly sheer blouse.  I took a snapshot of her walking away and held it in my mind, turned it around, considered calling her back in just to send her away again.  Sheila wasn’t making it easy to separate business from pleasure.

It should’ve been plenty easy though – the last time I mixed the two the poor girl ended up dead.  Some mook, fresh outta prison and gunning for me, caught her in his sights.  She took two bullets to the chest, each one meant for me.  She died right there on the sidewalk, in my arms…

But that was three years ago and Sheila had something particular to her.  She brought a lightness to my daily grayness that I was pulled towards, like a plant towards sunlight.  I found myself lingering in the front of the office near her quitting time, just in case her boyfriend was outta town and she had time for a drink.  Not that I could ask her, the dead girl in my arms saw to that, but the dead girl could’t keep me from accepting an invitation.  It never came though.

The outer office door shut behind Sheila heading to the supply shop. I reached into the desk drawer and pulled out the whiskey bottle.  It was almost noon.  The day’d been quiet, business slow, and that girl I tried so hard to forget was back on my mind.

My window looked onto an alleyway, right at the mouth where it met 21st Street.  The neighborhood had been in steady decline and at night, that alley had become a regular scene for drug deals, shakedowns, you name it..  The sounds of a scuffle filtered in but I was more concerned with my lowball.  I already felt well-worn, swirling the amber around my glass, but the PI business was in decline and it helped to play the part.  I could solve a case, but could I make a case for myself?

As I slid into my mid-day slump, a brick crashed through the window and sailed past my head before thumping against the wall.  I was at the window with my gun in hand, ready to fire it into the sky to scare off some kids, but they were already gone.  Better not to be shooting anyway, I thought, who needs the extra attention?

I turned back to the room and saw the paper tied to the brick with a familiar red and white string that I couldn’t quite place.  I read the brief note three times before the words finally hit me.  The scuffle outside now made sense and I returned to the window, leaning over the sill and past the jagged glass.  There, beside the dumpster, peeking out from the back was a slight black pump.  The same Sheila had been wearing.  I ran downstairs and outside to the alley but there was no trace of her beyond the shoe.  Everyone nearby claimed to have seen nothing.  Whoever wrote the note was serious.  I returned to the office and reread the note while fingering the string in my hand.  A few minutes later, on a hunch, I dialed an upstate phone number and hoped for a little bit of luck.

The remainder of the day passed in a blur and before I knew it, midnight loomed.  My pistol and a cigarette case that had been a gift from Sheila were on my desk.  I had spent nearly the entire day at my desk, figuring out all that I could, guessing the rest, making a few calls, formulating a plan, and making a few more calls.  Plans were essential, plans kept people from getting killed.  Too bad I barely had a minimal plan – I’d have to avoid getting killed by being ready to shoot first.

By midnight I was near the front door of the warehouse on the corner of Washington and Jackson, on the eastern edge of the city where things went from stylish to shifty, modern to menacing.  The note had instructed me to be at the location by midnight and not to be a minute late.  The streets were empty and silent but for the peeling out of a car a few blocks away.  Calling in a favor earlier in the day had resulted in me getting my hands on a copy of the floor plan of the warehouse.  There were two front and back entrances, a loading dock, and indications of a few windows punched into the walls.  They also displayed an open ground floor, a perimeter walkway on the second floor, and a pair of offices on one side.  That explained the windows.  I thought I saw a shadow move in the building across the street but I pushed it from my mind.

As I approached, the door opened and two men stepped outside one at a time, needing all the space to fit their thick frames through the doorway.  Their cheap, dark suits betrayed their low-level gang status.

“You clean?” the first one grunted.

“Find out yourself.”  His meaty hands grabbed me and shook my body as he gave the routine pat-down.  He pocketed the gun off my ankle holster and reached into the breast pockets of my jacket.

“Why you carrying a pack of smokes and a cigarette case?”

“Only three cigarettes left in the case – I’m planning ahead.”  He laughed while the other stood silently behind him, scanning the landscape.

“You might not be needing to plan for the future.”  He placed the case back in my pocket and the pack into his pocket.  “Come on, Steadman, the boss is waiting for you.”  He stepped behind and forced me along by my collar while the silent half of the pair led the way.

The warehouse was empty, lit by ancient and neglected lightbulbs that cast an aged pale yellow and gray over the space, turning us into the walking dead.  I could see the offices ahead at the top of a bare staircase and a figure standing in silhouette.  Footsteps were visible in the grime on the floor.  They were all muddled together but most importantly there weren’t many pairs and all followed the same path that we followed.  The door at the top of the stairs was closed.  The grunt ahead of me knocked and opened, the grunt behind pushed me in.

There was Sheila; her feet and hands bound to an old wooden chair, her mouth gagged, her eyes wide, her hair disheveled.  I could see bruises on her skin and only then did I take notice  of a few bruises on my captors.  I smiled for the first time since this whole mess began.

Eastside Earl stood behind a small desk, absentmindedly running a finger along a scar that ran the length of his cheek, eyes trained on me.  His suit didn’t look much better than that of the goons but it didn’t fool me – I knew his sinewy frame was more malicious and more dangerous than the two hired muscles combined.  A gangster’s figure with a psychopath’s mind.  I didn’t want to think about what he would do to Sheila if he killed me.

“Sam,” his tongue slithered, “such a pleasure to see you again.  Betcha thought it’d never happen, huh?  Well I knew, Sammy-boy, I knew, cause Eastside doesn’t go down like that.  I thoughta you every night in Lowdon, but it wasn’t just at night, no.  Breakfast, roll call, the yard, work detail; thoughta you every momenta every day and every time I thoughta everything I’d do to you once I got outta there.”

“And now you’re outta prison.”

“And now I’m out, Sammy-boy.  Paid off five guards, killed two, plus two mouthy inmates that got winda my plans.  Simple and easy -”

“- for a murderer and a scumbag,” I finished.  Eastside’s eyes glimmered like steel daggers, then his thin lips spread wide into a wicked grin.

“Simple and easy for a man who slipped up only once.  And that’s the one time you pounced.  I’ll give you that, Sammy-boy, you’ve always been tenacious and I respect a hardworkin’ man.  But only fools let respect stand in the waya reality.”  He continued running his finger along the scar like it was a tic he had acquired, or a nervous habit.  That made sense with me being in the room – I had given it to him.

“Listen, Earl, you got me pinned down – why don’t you let the girl go.  Your beef is with me, not her.”

“My beef is with her now she’s working for you.  Pretty thing too.”  Sheila’s eyes were wide with fear, they drew attention to her face and away from her almost invisibly fidgeting fingers.  Smart girl.

“Look, you wanna kill me, give it a shot, but she’s got nothing to do with this.  She doesn’t even know who you are.  Let her be.”

“Zip it, Sammy-boy!  I’m gonna kill you and then she’s gonna learn the fun parta being tied up.”  Looking around the room, there was nothing helpful; just sparse furniture and the windows on one wall.  Earl pulled a gun from the desk drawer and leveled it at me.  “Any last words?”

“At least give me the decency of one last smoke.”  Eastside hesitated, vacillating between the gangster with a code of conduct and the psychopath who wallowed in blood.  His own nicotine habit swayed him.

“Alright, one smoke, but gimme one too.”  The muscle leaned closer as I reached into my jacket pocket but there was only the cigarette case.  I flicked it open and with a shaky hand pulled free two cigarettes and a thin book of matches from Haverty’s on Lincoln.  “Light it for me,” he said as I stepped forward and offered him the unlit cigarette, “I ain’t taking my hand offa this gun.”  It took two strikes for the phosphorous to ignite and the flame danced wildly as the first cigarette burned between my lips.  I handed it to Earl and he took it swiftly like I might try to grab him.  The match burned down and the second one lit on the first try.  I tried remaining calm as the flame undulated and I put the cigarette in it’s path.  The match fell to the ground.  Earl blew a long stream of smoke towards me when the lights above suddenly swelled with incandescence.

Eastside looked up just as the lights exploded in unison, casting us into darkness and showering glass downward.  I threw an elbow backwards into the neck of the goon on my right and when I heard his knees hit the ground, I reached for where I estimated his head to be and twisted until it cracked.  Propping him up, I felt in his jacket for the pistol he had taken earlier.  Sheila was audibly working over the other goon with the chair she had freed herself from.  Earl fired a few blind shots but we were smart enough to stay low.  I crept around the desk where I could see the shiny leg of his cheap suit reflecting the little light that came in through the window.

My legs coiled beneath me, I flung the cigarette case at Eastside’s hand.  He yelped as the heavy silver collided with his knuckles.  As the gun tumbled from his fingers, I sprang forward, taking him out at the knees and kicking his gun away as it clanked on the floor.  A few punches to the face calmed him right down.

“Better than prison, Eastside?  You like this better?”

“This ain’t over, Sammy-boy.”

“Yeah it is, Eastside.  You threaten me, that’s part of the job; you threaten Sheila, that’s going too far.  So yeah, it’s over, Earl.”  I pushed my gun barrel against the underside of his chin until I felt his head push back.  When the flesh wouldn’t give anymore, I pulled the trigger.  My breathing slowed, I listened for cues to the room through the ringing but everything sounded steady.

Standing up, my eyes had grown accustomed to the dark and allowed me to survey the room.  Eastside was spattered along the westside, Goon One had his head at an awful angle, and Sheila stood over Goon Two, who lay on the ground glassy-eyed with a shard of chair leg protruding from his neck.  She was silent, I thought in shock, but it was amazement and adrenaline.  She grabbed my arms and pulled me close.

“That was incredible, Sam!  How did you pull it off?”

“Oh, it was nothing.  I checked out the real estate info for this place – it’s been empty for years, which means nobody’s been changing the lights so the bulbs were cheap and old.  All it took was an electrical surge to blow them.”

“And how did you cause an electrical surge?”

“I got my hands on the floor plan of the warehouse and saw there were two offices here on the second floor, took a lucky guess that things would go down here in view of the windows.  So then I called in a favor at People’s Energy and had a guy in the building across the street waiting for a signal.  Once he saw the signal, he made a phone call and PE sent a surge to the address, blowing the building.”

“The signal?”

“The flame and the cigarette.”

“Stop making me ask everything, Sam!  How did you know he’d go for the cigarette?”

“Cause Eastside Earl has always been a nicotine fiend and a cheap bastard; as long as I’ve known the thug he’s been bumming smokes off people no matter how much money he had.  And I knew it was Eastside from the red and white baker’s twine he used to tie the note to the brick that he threw through the window.  His mother owns a bakery downtown and he’s always used it as a fallback base of operations.  I made a call to Lowdon Penitentiary upstate – turns out he escaped five weeks ago.  I’m the one that collared him and put him away so it made sense that he was gunning for me.

“Sam, you’re the best!”

“No, Sheila, you are.”  I pulled her closer, looking down into her eyes.  “Anybody else I might not have risked my neck for.  Sheila, I… you know I’m not the emotional type but… well, there’s just something about you that makes me want to stop sticking out my neck for anybody else but you.  The thought of something happening to you, I was just, I was losing my mind.”

“Are you telling me I’ve cracked the stoney exterior of Sam Steadman?”

“… I’m just saying -”

“Shut your mouth and quit sayin’, Sam.”  She grabbed the lapels of my jacket and pulled my face down to meet hers.

Another adventure begins, I thought.

100 Country Songs Elmer Lee Wrote For Ethel Perkins; March 2005 – October 2008 (#7)

In Stories Volume 1 on April 16, 2012 at 8:25 am

1. Frontman Needs A Frontlady (Lookin’ At You)

2.When I Butter My Toast I Imagine I’m Caressing Your Face

3. Paintball Date Night

4. A is for Angelic (The Alphabet Cycle)

5. B is for Beatrice and How I’d Go Further For You Than Dante Did For Her (The Alphabet Cycle)

6. C is for the El Camino That I’ll Pick You Up In If You Let Me Take You Out (The Alphabet Cycle)

7. D is for Drunk (We’re Gonna Have Fun) (The Alphabet Cycle)

8. Ethel

9. Ethel, Be Mine

10. I Wanna Hold Your Hand (2005)

11. Come On, Ethel

12. B is for Bitchin’

13. The Band Thinks You’re Hot

14. I’d Learn To Read Just to Read You Like A Book

15. My Brother, Tommy, Is A Jerk, Ethel

16. Why?

17. Why, Ethel?

18. It’s Not Too Late

19. I’ll Still Love You

20. Most Beautiful

21. Bar Fights

22. Tommy Got His Heart Out (Replacements Parody/Cover)

23. Only Child

24. Dancin’ And Romancin’

25. Speakin’ The Truth

26. What I Thought You Thought About What I Thought

27. Picnics Are For Sissies

28. I’m Your Sissy

29. Ronky-Bonk (Honky-Tonk R&B)

30. Pretty Clever For A Dummy

31. Gonna Be A Star

32. Found

33. Only One I Love (Ethel, You’re The)

34. Foot-Shaped Hole In The TV (What The?)

35. Don’t Call Me Hick

36. Paradise

37. Time Goes Fast (Memory Cycle 1)

38. Ain’t No Time For The Band (Memory Cycle 2)

39. Lost

40. Strikin’ Solo

41. Serious, Confessional, Singer-Songwriter

42. Radio is Radi-no

43. Dark Days

44. What’s Next?

45. Christmas With Ethel Perkins and Her Family

46. Didn’t Know She Had A Sister

47. Tested

48. Hardwood (Revengin’)

49. Knockin’ Boots in the Wood-Paneled Trailer

50. Oh Shit! (Part 1)

51. New Year’s Tears

52. 1+1+1 = 0 (Math Cycle 1)

53. 1-1-1 Also = 0 (Math Cycle 2)

54. 1-1+1 Still = 0 (Math Cycle 3)

55. Whiskey’s My Only Friend

56. Lonely Couch

57. Apologizin’

58. Sorry Ain’t Enough

59. Beers With My Brother

60. When Will Sorry Be Enough?

61. Big Bad World

62. Shootin’ With My Eyes Closed

63. Makin’ Up & Makin’ Love

64. Engaged (What Else Do I Do?)

65. Hangin’ With The Boys

66. Plannin’

67. Mortgage For My Marriage

68. 4x4s and Four On the Floor

69. Don’t You Invite No Horse

70. The Wedding Song

71. Wasted Away Again in Daiquiri-aville (Jimmy Buffet Parody/Cover)

72. Buckin’ Broncos

73. Elmer’s Glue

74. Best Times

75. Oh Shit! (Part 2 – Gonna Be A Daddy)

76. Clock’s Tickin’

77. Where I Been?

78. Bills, Bills, Bills (2007)

79. Too Tight Trailer

80. Closet Sizes

81. Buyin’ In Bulk Blues

82. Beer Budget? (Don’t Think So)

83. Expectin’

84. Overstayin’ Her Welcome

85. Speedin’ On The Wrong Side Of The Road

86. Lil’ Ethel

87. Joysome Cries

88. Too Poor For A Nanny, Too Late For a Granny

89. Late Nights (Whiskey Don’t Make It No Easier)

90. Boys Are Callin’

91. Can’t Tie A Good Man Down

92. Break Time

93. Daddy’s Time Away

94. Always Come Back To Momma & Baby

95. Sittin’ On The Front Porch (Nursin’ Beers & Bruises)

96. County Fair Carousel

97. Oh Shit! (Part 3 – Gonna Be A Daddy 2)

98. Tick-Tock

99. Lil’ Elmer

100. Ethel’s Song (Told Ya I’d Do It)

The Friction (#6)

In Stories Volume 1 on April 9, 2012 at 8:04 am

01.28.12 / 4:56am

Brown was in the driver’s seat, his fingers locked on the steering wheel even as they sat still.  White was in the back on the passenger’s side.  Two dark gray suitcases were in the trunk.  One held her possessions, the other contained things she had picked up for Black.  She didn’t know if he would pack, if he even had clean clothes ready to go.

Manhattan – the city may never sleep but it dials back the intensity.  The car stood out terribly, she thought, idling on the quiet city street.  She saw light streaming from the windows of his building and hoped that he was the one awake.  She had tossed her depleted burner two days before and he hadn’t had any way to contact her, to signal assent, dissent, or warning.  One light was killed, then another.  The pause was severe and everlasting.  Maybe New York did sleep, maybe it was asleep now and so was she, caught in a dream where Black would forever linger between his residence and the front door of the building; where thirty seconds would last thirty years.  Better than to find the Head of Security walking through that door – she would expect nothing less than blood on his hands if he had discovered their plan.  But New York didn’t sleep and it wasn’t a dream and thirty seconds didn’t stretch thirty years and the building’s door opened slowly until finally Black emerged.  He was incognito in the casual wear of Americans: dark jeans, black sweater, black peacoat buttoned tightly around his lean frame, a black leather overnight bag in his right hand.

Brown pulled away from the curb two blocks away.  Black hailed them and they pulled over like any gypsy cab.  White smiled through the tinted glass, watching his hand reach for the door.  His glasses were pushed tight against his face.  They could do this, they could be free together for however long was left.  The car door opened.  Her left eye caught a pair of headlights approaching behind them.  Her right thought it detected movement at the door to the building.  She turned–

 

01.27.12 / 10:18am

Brown parked illegally and set his hazards to flashing – the diplomatic plates would prevent any hassle for at least a few minutes.  The boy stood under the awning of the bodega near the corner of 47th and 3rd, right where he was supposed to be.  Brown was thankful the boy hadn’t fucked this up for if he had, White would’ve blamed both of them.  He dialed the boy’s phone and hung up once he saw him react.  Brown waited to see if he signaled anyone.  Nothing, he hadn’t been compromised.  He dialed and hung up a second time.  The boy entered the store.  Brown quieted the car’s engine and followed inside, the tip of the white envelope emerging brightly from the pocket of his gray felt overcoat.  When he exited with a pack of cigarettes, the envelope was gone.  The boy exited shortly after, the tip of the white envelope emerging brightly from the pocket of his black Gore-Tex jacket, his inner pocket thick with a roll of cash.

Brown was double-parked at the first relay point on 55th and Madison by the time the boy arrived a few minutes later.  The two couriers hadn’t met before but Brown had been meticulous in the details: where each would stand, what they would do with their hands, how they would greet each other.  Even though he was watching for it, he barely saw the four-times folded envelope slide between palms as they greeted each other like old friends.  Then they split in opposite directions.  Brown took the car out of park.  He hated spending his time tracking couriers like this but it was the only way to ensure the unmolested transmission of the message from White to Black.

He was barely in time for the next relay.  The second boy had taken a stack of papers from his backpack, the folded envelope on top.  As he passed the flower shop on 43rd at 5th, he stumbled and it all went crashing down.  Brown flinched.  Somebody knelt to help him with the papers and the boy was on his way.  Minus the envelope, now in the hands of the third courier.  Brown didn’t need to follow this man – he was the most trusted of the three, had been used before, had a connection with one of Black’s men who believed he was working on a solution, even if everyone in the world knew a solution was out of reach.  If this connection had an ounce of intelligence, Brown thought, he’ll be making escape plans before they call him back.  He looked down towards the steering wheel, said a small prayer for his family back in Gray, and turned south.

 

01.27.12 / 7:00am

White walked downstairs from her bedroom in the second floor of the townhouse, emerging into the kitchen where her cook and his assistant busied about with preparations, though for what she did not know.  There were no dinners, no receptions, no parties planned.  Maybe I should have planned one, her mind drifted, to ease any concerns about my continued determination and presence here.  The assistant added milk foam to her espresso and handed White her first macchiato of the morning.  She relished small things like the espresso machine and the milk frother igniting at the sound of her high-heeled shoes through the floorboards.  She held the fragile white porcelain saucer in her left hand and sipped from the cup in her right, tasting how the fatty milk opened up the fine espresso’s flavor.  White was asking what the preparations were for when she saw Brown’s blazer pass across the doorway.

“Brown,” she called.  He came back and looked at her through the doorway.

“Yes, Madam?”

“Join me in my study, I need to discuss something with you.”

“Yes, Madam.”

Down the hallway from the kitchen, they entered a room of dark woods and books.  White walked behind her large desk and motioned for Brown to sit as she did the same.  He undid the buttons on his blazer and followed her command.  She took a folded white envelope from the breast pocket of her suit jacket and spread it out on the desktop between them.

“You know what this is?”

“No, Madam.”  She hesitated.

“It’s time, Brown.  All is coming to an end for us, just as we discussed.  Now you know what this is.”

“Yes, Madam.”

“And you remember the instructions?  You have your people in place?”

“Indeed, Madam, they have been in place for weeks now; adequately financed to keep them in their places.”

“So you’ll drive me in as usual, maintain your normal schedule, do nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Correct, Madam.”

“My speech has been pushed off until Monday, so the morning should proceed as normal, meaning Black should leave the grounds around 10am.”

“Correct, Madam.  If today’s schedule is the same as it has been, then everything is under control and in place.”

“Good.  Thank you, Brown.  And your family… ?”

“They know nothing but I’ve kept an eye on their whereabouts.”

“Good; I wish the best for you and for them.”

“Thank you, Madam.  If there is nothing else, I should make some preparations.”  His meaty hand reached for the envelope, folded it, and slid it into his pants pocket.  Brown made swiftly for the door.  “Good luck today, Madam.”

“Good luck to you, Brown.”  He shut the door softly.  His heavy footsteps could be heard moving rapidly down the hallway.  White swallowed the remaining coffee and cradled the small mug in her light palm.  She needed to remain focused.

 

01.27.12 / 1:39am

White took the piece of paper, folded it three times, and slid it into an envelope. She folded the envelope and slid it into a jacket pocket, terrified even to leave it out in sight of the world. She wept inside but maintained her resolve. A small smile even crept across her face momentarily; a rarity without him.

 

01.27.12 / 1:17am

“Our countries will annihilate each other.  They will tear down the entire world if it is necessary.  They don’t care anymore – all understanding, all empathy, all goodwill has been obliterated by years of violence.  Even if our respective leaders were to stand down it would do no good – the people would tear them to shreds as they themselves have oiled the gears of war.  If not our leaders, our military; if not our military, our citizens; if not our citizens, our vermin.  So deeply has the violence, persecution, and hatred permeated our society that should all living creatures be killed or halted, even the trash and waste would self-animate and rise up to bear arms.

If we are to leave this behind, if we are to forget our families, our countries, our lifelong loyalties… now is the time.  You have seen the writing the same as I, the signs are garish and unmistakable.  My country will be recalling me from the United Nations in days, if not hours.  I am only still here as I convinced them I was possibly onto a breakthrough with someone deep inside your country; that it was so secret that I could reveal nothing, only that I needed a few more days.  This is my cover.  I cannot fathom how you are still here other than that your country is playing the victim, the innocent citizen of the world, and requires that you be here to save face and rally countries to your side; even as we both know that your missiles are being prepped, your assassination teams are infiltrating my country, and that, though the rest of the world is unaware, the top general of your army has already been poisoned for cautioning against aggression.

The time is now.  The world as we know it is ending.  Pitiable as we may be, we are privileged; though we have failed on the world stage, we have succeeded in our own theatre.  You and I; after we disappear together, we will be forgotten.  We are but minor characters in the tumult swirling around us; stand-ins for the leaders we disagree with whose words we must represent lest we be forced to find each other in the cloudy confines of death.

Tomorrow morning.  5am.  My car will be outside your residence.  Brown will escort us and then go to his family out west.  We can still trust him.  I will have everything else prepared.  Have faith… in the plan, in the inevitability, in me.  I love you.  Even as our countries burn themselves to the ground and threaten to bring the world with them, even as everything we’ve ever been taught ruptures and shakes the earth beneath out feet.  I love you.”

It Doesn’t Come Together Easily (#5)

In Stories Volume 1 on April 2, 2012 at 7:46 am

You cannot shake the sound of ambulance sirens from your ears.

You cannot begin to comprehend what has happened.

You cannot fathom how or why.

You cannot imagine what the future will bring now, now that he…

You cannot say the words.

You cannot say the words because you’re uncertain of what the words are.

You cannot say: ‘has had a stroke,’ ‘is dead,’ ‘is in a coma,’ ‘is gone.’

You cannot say these things because they are each so different and the distance between the differences is vast.

You cannot pick one because these things change so fast.

You cannot say because you are not yet there.

 

You were having drinks with a friend, a colleague.

You were having your second vodka tonic when the phone rang.

You were so insistent that he list you as his emergency contact.

You were so persistent when he stated that anybody he was likely to be around would know the relationship and that he didn’t need extra contacts cluttering his phone.

You were fully justified, you now know, when you entered it in his phone without his knowledge.

You were right on the border between sober and tipsy when the phone rang.

You were sober ten seconds later.

You were unable to explain it all to Kerri; you would have been unable to explain it all to yourself, but you were clearheaded enough to throw a $20 on the bar before leaving.

You were always so reluctant to be in anyone’s debt.

You were unable but to rethink the notion of debt.

 

You are in the waiting room and cannot help but think that this is but the first of many times you’ll be waiting in rooms antiseptic and devoid of outward emotions and quiet and cold and heavy and heavy and heavy and…

You are regretful of having made neither wills nor living wills.

You are the reason for that, always wanting to put it off, saying it would require more time than you or he could put aside that weekend, that there was time, that you were both healthy, all while you were just scared.

You are sorry for so many things, so many little things that you never thought to be sorry for, that never seemed worth being sorry for until suddenly you could no longer apologize.

You are wistful and overwhelmed by memories.

You are afraid of change.

You are waiting for a doctor, a nurse, an orderly, a receptionist, a janitor, anyone, anyone, anyone to come to tell you something.

You are afraid of and expecting the worst, it is your nature.

You are hating yourself and the world around you, hating him and whatever brought this on, hating the life you’ve built together because in this fucked up world, it could only ever fall to pieces, inevitably, certainly, undeniably.

You are embracing yourself and looking away when someone finally does enter the room.

 

You remember when his father died of cancer, his mother of a heart attack, your parents together in the car crash, your first and second dogs of ‘old age.’

You remember the beach in northern Greece in 1986, when he told you that he could swim to that little island and you didn’t believe him and then he did it.

You remember when he surprised you with that trip to San Francisco, when you thought you were going to the airport to pick up that friend of his that you hated, Vance, and then he pulled two tickets from the visor and two suitcases from the trunk.

You remember every Christmas morning.

You remember every anniversary, even though you both agreed to make nothing of anniversaries, and how he would always find a tiny way to make it special for you that every time still managed to count as ‘doing nothing.’

You remember when you decided to have children and then when the pregnancy didn’t take the first time, then the second, then the third, and then you decided to give up and began crying and crying and crying and crying and crying and crying and crying and crying and crying and crying, both you and him, taking turns leaning into each other and being leaned into.

You remember fighting.

You remember the last time you moved and how nervous both of you were yet neither of you would admit it until that night when things were so tense and the plate slipped off the table, smashing into a dozen pieces on the wood floor and in that shattered moment you both began laughing and couldn’t stop for what seemed like an hour and you both finally realized what the other was feeling and could finally vent what you yourself felt.

You remember love, so deep; love, more than anything else, love.

You remember being so close.

 

You wish there was more time.

You wish you could stop listening to sad music but it seems to be the only music that matters anymore.

You wish you could stop crying without provocation.

You wish it would have been you, because he was always the stronger one and he could have handled this all so much better.

You wish you could let him go.

You wish people would stop asking if there was anything you would do differently, because you wouldn’t.

You wish he was still with you, or that you could be with him.

You wish that you weren’t you.

You wish that the irrational was rational.

You wish that wishes came true.