Monday, September 22, 2008

For Wordsmiths

She found the place by accident, needing to sit somewhere, and even though the place was deserted, it looked warm; something she was not. She scoffed quietly to herself when she read the name. The only heroes in this world were sandwiches. The ones she saw on the worn pages of the crumpled, dusty, comic books she found when cleaning out the attic in her parents house didn’t count.
They were her brothers’ old comic books, boxes of them. Next to the boxes of his clothes, school papers, trophies, and all those damn pictures.
If you didn’t know the family, you’d think he was an only child.
She may as well not exist.
She was the one left, the one who took care of the final arrangements for her father last week, saw to it that the bills were paid, cleaned out the attic, and the rest of the house, and finally, today, turned the keys over to the realtor.
After staring stupidly at the blurred words on the laminated menu, the gum-cracking, saddle shoe tapping waitress took her order for ‘just coffee, please.’ She didn’t even drink coffee but it seemed the only way to make the waitress and her scent-shroud of menthol cigarettes and hairspray go away.
The coffee came and she mindlessly dropped a sugar cube in to the cup, stirred.
She watched the street hoping for something to happen.
Something that might tell her what to do next.
She thought about the little pistol. It was weird, discovering her father owned a gun. Why did he have a gun? It wasn’t old, clearly not an heirloom of any kind. Yet, there it was, clean and well protected in its little case.
She took it home the day she found it. The pistol and its pretty little bullets.
Since then, she’d caught herself day dreaming about it. In her mind, the steel glowed, almost too bright to look at, like the face of watch caught in the sunlight.
She could sell it. She should turn it in to the police station. One of those amnesty things. It would be less trouble that way. No questions. No explanations. No admitting that she really might not have known her dad.

She wiped a stray tear away.

She heard someone come in and sit order coffee, like her. She glanced over her shoulder and their eyes met. He smiled, then nodded at her. She tried to return the smile and turned back to her cold coffee.

The waitress returned; asked if anything was wrong with her coffee. She shook her head, and ducked her gaze, as the waitress tucked her bill under the saucer.

She rose to leave, glancing at the newcomer. She avoided his eyes as she passed, but felt him graze her sleeve with his fingertips,
“Young lady? His life is over. Not yours. Get rid of that thing”

His gentle words propelled her out to the street and the tears came.


Mojo said...

Oh wow... the hair on my neck stood up when I read the last next to last line.

You have a real gift for imagery JC. I can see this unfolding as clearly as if the photo were a video.

The whole thing is just so incredibly plausible, that it makes us believe the man actually was reading her thoughts. Because in such a completely believable setting even something as unbelievable as that seems credible.

The waitress? You captured her perfectly in only a couple of lines. No problem at all picturing her. Of course she is so glaringly generic, it wouldn't require much more than the treatment you gave her.

But most haunting of all is the voyeuristic view we get into the girl's thoughts. It almost makes me want to turn away. Like it's something too private for me to see.

But I got a general sense of unease about the pistol. She found it just a touch to compelling for my comfort. And I truly hope she heeds the man's words to her.

This is an achingly beautiful story, and I can't find anything to criticize here. I can't even say that about my own entry...

Thank you for this. I'm really glad you added it to the collection.

kenju said...

My hair stood up too!! This is really good and I wanted more at the end of it. That should be the mark of good fiction, huh?

Doctor Err said...

told you.
love it.
and pretty little bullets. my favorite.
such a... i dunno.. exclamation about what is rolling around her head and heart. i can see the pretty little bullets.
love that part.
what does THAT say about me?

L said...

Wow. Now that was something.

(I mean this in a good way--- I am just not wordsmithing well at all.)

Dave to You said...

I'm not that big on mind reader things. Just me. I made it work for me by thinking the stranger was a former associate hitman with her Dad. I started thinking that when the hidden gun showed up. Maybe him and Dad would meet there. He 'knew' her and thus the advice.
Maybe a stretch, I know, but...

Liked the visuals and overall angst. Good take. -d

Cravey said...

Thanks to all of your for stopping by and reading my little story. :) Lots of my personal crap was in this little story, and it wasn't what I planned at all. Special thanks to Dr. Err, who sent me her story first and inspired me to get to writing.

Thanks again.'


rennratt said...

Oh, WOW.

Well done, JC.

Mimi Lenox said...

Loved this. The depth of your/her pain is palpable and the imagery left just the right amount to the imagination. Well done.

Anonymous said...

A heap o' praise for you & your story. Where would you like it? I'll just back the truck up...