a small gift, or how my ass was kicked

Appology:  If you were here recently,  my last post went as blank. I’m sure it was something I did, but probably not.  I will try to recreate that post.

Redux

As you know I endeavored to complete NaNoWriMo this year.  50,000 words seemed doable.  Yesterday at about 4:30, I called it quits.  More specifically, I decided that I would write on Thursday night and Friday and call it good at about 40,000.  Needless to say I realized several days ago that 50k was not going to happen.  Life and work intervene.  Finding 3 hours each night is nearly impossible.  Especially when I was plotting by the seat of my pants.

I figure I’ll work on this piece sporadically, knowing that it will probably never see the light of day.  If I do NaNoWriMo next year, I’ll have it 80% plotted in advance.  Once I determined where I was going, I could make some progress.  Generally, I dwelt on where I was headed.  Sadly, I think I figured out the end today. Oh well.

So, as my gift to you, here is the first piece I wrote, edited several times, but probably not up to your standards.  Enjoy

UNTITLED

An unknown liquid pooled on the third and fourth steps leading down to the station.  A wrapper from a double cheeseburger lay half submerged like an iceberg waiting for the Titanic to float by.  He was thinking about the failures of the day when the crunch of paper lead to an ugly splash.  Looking down, he saw his wet shoe and continued shuffling down the filthy stair case.

“Spare change,” said the hobo at the bottom of the stairs.  He always thought of them as hobos.  In college his friends called them dirt bags, political correctness completely ignored.  But to him they were hobos. Surely there was a sack of canned food and dirty clothes tied to a stick stashed somewhere nearby, hidden until it was time to hop the next train and ride the rails to the next, best place.   Dirt bags were an anathema.  Hobos had panache.  On reflection, this wretch was not a hobo.

“Not today.  I’m sorry,” came the standard response without thinking.  Perhaps one day he would give a hobo a quarter or a dime, but that day was not today.  Money was tight and there really wasn’t any to spare.  As it was, it was all he could do to prevent the scorn boiling up in him from coloring his apology.

The lobby outside the turnstiles was not as littered as the stairs, but it was far from clean.  The blue bin for the traveler’s newspapers was overflowing and stray sheets lay against the gray walls, waiting for the night janitor to gather them.  The wind blew a Charleston Chew wrapper across the floor, leaving its half-eaten contents orphaned in a corner.  The signs on the right had been tagged with blue spray paint.  It barely registered in his consciousness.  He paid little attention his surroundings as he put his ticket in the slot.  Taking it out, the gate open and he was inside.

He took the stairs down 2 flights and found himself on the end of the platform. There was no one around him.  Looking far to the left he saw a few people gathered near the center of the platform.  The red sign above told all who looked that the next train was in 13 minutes.  Shaking his head, he realized he just missed the previous train.  The thought of being late ran through his head, until he remembered there was not anyone waiting for him.

Time is often his enemy, allowing him to dwell on the events — some recent, others in distant past — he regrets.  Time to obsess over what could have been done differently, what could have changed and what could have been. In the end, nothing changes; the past has been written.  Today was an especially bad day.  He tried hard not to think about the day’s mistakes, failing miserably.  The distraction of a rat scurrying under the third rail kept his regrets to a moderate level.

When the train arrived, it was packed to the gills.  The doors slid open and the crowd inside dared him to enter.  There was barely any room, but one man slinked off, creating the space he needed to enter.  As the door shut, he realized this was as much a prison as a commute.  He was confined to a small space; walled in physically, not metaphorically.   Crammed in, with his back against the train wall, he reviewed his surroundings.

The train had departed from the airport, which explained the large suitcase to his right.  In front of him was a bicycle, upside down creating the front wall of his cell.  Another bicycle was to his left, rolled in next to him.  He owned one and a half square feet of real estate.  No more and no less.  This could not change.  He wasn’t claustrophobic, but this was different.  This was unnatural and made the hair stand up on his arms.

The upturned bike in front of him was held by its owner.  Held was the wrong term.  The man sat, cradling the front tire in his arms, his head rested on what appeared to a woman’s gray tee shirt, gingerly spread across the tire tread.  It was an odd sight, befitting the odd space he found himself in.   The man lifted his head, the odd hairline retreating from view as he stretched his neck.  The shirt on the tire bore a Forever 21 label, confirming the intended gender.  The man resembled a troll, a thought he quickly dismissed as he saw his face.  Bad teeth and an uneven pasty completion were there first things he saw, but they were not what caught his attention.  It was the man’s eyes.  No, not the pupil and iris, but the lids.  They were an unnatural rosy red.  Makeup did not create this color; it was as if they were sunburned and radiating heat.  The stark contrast to his white skin was eerie.  If not for his eyelids, he might have been mistaken for a junkie.  Instead he seemed more ghoulish.  It was not a stretch to envision him eating the dead.

On the other side of the beloved bicycle stood a slight man with stringy hair.  He kept looking left and right as though he was afraid someone would do him harm in these close quarters. People turned their heads to avoid eye contact.  He glared into the makeshift cell commanding the prisoner to look down to avoid the fear and malice being radiated.

Trapped and uncomfortable he kept his head down.  The only remarkable thing down there was his shoes, functional and his on the dingy train floor.  He felt a tap on his shoulder. Looking up he made eye contact with a cute blonde now standing behind the uneasy man.  He wondered how he didn’t see her in her neon pink pants.  She must have been behind someone.  She pointed to the large suitcase.

“I’m getting off, can you help me with that?”

Nodding, he grabbed the bag by the top handle.  He lifted the handle, the bag remained.  I must have been filled with rocks.  Or textbooks.  Perhaps both. “We’ll figure something out when the train stops,” he told her.  She smiled. He wasn’t used to that.

When the train stopped, the man with the bike to his left got off the train to let others exit.    It gave him the chance to raise the rolling handle and wheel the bag off for her.  She smiled again and thanked him as he got back on the train.

People are creatures of habit. Re-entering the train, he moved back to the space he had been in a moment prior. But that was not to be.  The man with the stringy hair was now standing there, acting as territorial as pit bull in a bad neighborhood.  Not being confrontational, he squeezed into a different spot, on the other side of the upturned bicycle.

The ghoul with the red eyelids rolled his head unnaturally.  The ride was exceptionally bumpy and the ghoul held the tire tighter, like a lover holding on for one last kiss at daybreak.  The train shook as it stopped at the next station.  The ghoul flipped the bike over and wheeled it off the car.  Even though the man with the pasty complexion was no longer there, a sense of dread pervaded as the train left the station, moving ever further east.

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2 Comments

  1. omg. it said it published it. grrrr

    Reply

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